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Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - Sword of Destiny

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - Sword of Destiny
Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh

Rated: PG-13 for martial arts violence and brief partial nudity.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 26, 2016 Released by: The Weinstein Company

It's been a while since Ang Lee's Cantonese spoken wuxia drama with Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh amazed international viewers with its masterful and melodramatic elegance . Now, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon action choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping is also behind the camera in this follow-up reaching certain venues in a giant-screen format.

Subtitled Sword of Destiny and occurring nearly a score after its predecessor there is something missing in this new telling which lacks a dexterity and dynamism as scenarist John Fusco draws from a tome with redemptive, lovelorn, burgeoning qualities among its diverse warriors.

A game, if stranded Yeoh's Yu Shu Lien learns of the plans to pilfer The Green Destiny that involve the dastardly Lord Hades Dai (a charismatically carnal Jason Scott Lee) and his Blind Enchantress (Eugenia Yuan). Part of the pawns in and around its retrieval for the estate include Tiefang (Harry Shum, Jr.) and Natasha Liu Bordizzo's Snow Vase. Also, Meng Sizhao/Silent Wolf (busy Chinese action star Donnie Yen of Zhang Yimou's wondrously visual and involving Hero) returns much to Shu Lien's surprise (figuring his demise had occurred some time ago).

The production design and story construction appear to be on par for superficiality with gliding battles which seem more nostalgic and less cutting-edge as Yen appears in a couple of the more significant set-pieces. Yeoh does her best to offer a full-bodied characterization, yet a distant, if hardly intimate approach to the material leaves the payoff as cold as the frozen lake where a key face-off happens.

The antecedent is referenced in the exposition of Snow Vase and Tiefang relative to the previous film's Yu Jia Dong (done with sly ferocity by Zhang Ziyi). However, the translation doesn't let Bordizzo and Shum, Jr. resonate nearly as well across less vividly rendered landscapes. The destiny of this Crouching Tiger is limited and underwhelmingly hidden behind and in front of the camera, not providing the genre, as well as Yeoh (with too much of an up and down career) and Yen (short-changed in a kind of apologetic way), the kind of resurgence it really needs.

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Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon - Sword of Destiny  B      B            B-         B 

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