Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny Review!

Jondee here at the House of Tei,

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Netflix is premiering the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which covers the last book, Iron Knight, Silver Vase, in the Crane Iron Pentalogy by Wang Dulu. The film was released on February 26th on Netflix. The dialogue is in English all provided by the actors. It is directed by Yuen Woo-Ping who is the top name as action choreographer for martial arts films including; The Grandmaster (the very best martial arts film), The Forbidden Kingdom matching Jackie Chan and Jet Li, Kill Bill, the Matrix films, and Drunken Master (where he also directed Jackie). The screenplay is by John Fusco who also wrote The Forbidden Kingdom. The scenery is beautiful, but set in New Zealand. This film delves into and expands the story that we didn’t get in CTHD. Michelle Yeoh returns as Yu Shu Lien her character in the previous film. It begins with her narration picking up 18 years after the death of Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat’s character). She explains that clans are fighting to rule the Martial World. It has a black and white training scene with young kids and bo staves. She says she wants to slip through the world “like a forgotten ghost.” Yu Shu Lien is taken by wagon to look out to a misty cliff. The effects create a beautiful world.

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Unnoticed is a man in a hat on horseback watching her. The wagon is ambushed by men with spears. Yu Shu Lien bursts out of the wagon’s roof and flips down to fight off the attackers with her sword. Yeoh still has all of her action moves. Out of the forest, comes the man with the hat, a spinning whirlwind of death. Yu Shu Lien fights off one of the attackers and kicks off his mask revealing a young man (Harry Shum, Jr. from Glee). She sees his face, but is blinded by the sun, the man runs off. The man with the hat defeats the attackers and runs away like a ghost. Yu Shu Lien sees the necklace of a fallen attacker and recognizes it. At a tower on a mountain top, is the training camp of the attackers, the West Lotus. A young woman (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) is being taken there by armed men. She has a pale beauty and can fight with the best of them, though her character needs more training. The woman eyes another woman, Mantis, (Veronica Ngo) in the West Lotus clan. Then, she is taken to the clan’s leader, Hades Dai played by Jason Scott Lee. He of course became famous played Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993), but was also in Back to the Future Part II (1989), and provided the voice of David Kawena in Lilo & Stitch (2002). Hades Dai has the shaven head and carries a vicious, jagged edged sword.

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The women face each other and the one brought in takes a sword from her guard detail attacks the other woman and Hades Dei. He takes out his jagged sword and shatters the blade of her sword. The woman leaps up on a stone sculpture and hurls the broken sword at the West Lotus men. Hades Dei allows her to leave and says, “Let her grow into someone worth killing.” The young man races through a misty forest of thorny trees. He is confronted by a blind woman (Eugenia Yuan), credited as Blind Enchantress, who appears to ask to be brought to Hades Dei. Yu Shu Lien rides into the household of Tei. She talks to the son of Sir Tei and he mentions his father wanted the Green Destiny sword to be kept there. At the tower of the West Lotus, the Blind Enchantress tells Hades Dei about the Green Destiny. Hades Dei does not want to assault the house of the emperor’s brother. The Enchantress points to the young man whom she says is bound to the sword. At the funeral ceremony, Yu Shu Lien lights an incense stick and sees the young woman.

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The rooftops with a man in black floating across them, he flips into a room, and is just able to catch a falling dish. He opens the case of the Green Destiny and has to struggle with a masked, young woman. They fight over the sword and knock into a vase which the woman catches with her foot. She rips part of his black uniform which reveals a crow birthmark. He knocks her back into a vase which shatters. An alarm is sounded and he tries to escape with the Green Destiny. Yu Shu Lien drags him down from a wall and easily captures him and removes his mask. She recognizes him as the man who attacked her wagon, but keeps him caged because he has value to Hades Dei. He eyes the young woman before being taken away. The young woman introduces herself as Snow Vase to Yu Shu Lien. Snow Vase makes a play to try to take the Green Destiny, but is easily stopped by Yu Shu Lien so she wants to be trained. The young man introduces himself as Wei Fung.

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Yu Shu Lien wants to take the Green Destiny to a monastery in the mountains, but wants to honor his father’s wishes. She wants to warriors of the Iron Way to protect the sword. The man in the hat takes the notice. He rides to a tavern. A bully wants to take up the warrant for pay. He is opposed a number of warriors; Chris Pang who plays Flying Blade known for throwing his blade and fighting, then Woo Young Park who plays Thunderfist Chan, a warrior who can deflecting blades with his gauntlets, the deadly Silver Dart Shi (Juju Chan), she lives up to her name with an armload of silver darts that can drop several attackers, and finally the bulky Darryl Quon who introduces himself for the others who are famous warriors, “And I, Turtle Ma, famed in this tavern” (lol), deadly with shield and sword. The man in the hat defeats the swordsman while still seated. He is played by Donnie Yen! The man takes on the leader swinging axes and also crushes the feet of the thugs by stepping on them! Even the owner of the tavern gets into the fight wielded pans and even pours steaming hot noodles onto the head of an attacker! Donnie Yen’s character sails up on a post and goes into a crane pose, this movie has everything! He introduces himself as Silent Wolf. Turtle Ma will fight for drink, really he is the funniest character. This film has compelling leads with Bordizzo and Shum, Jr., plus Yeoh and Yen, the fight scenes are impressive, and though it may not have the Ang Lee touches with cinematography by Peter pau, but it is still cinematic, and makes up for it with the group of warriors and a more likable young pairing than the first film. Five Green Destiny Swords out of Five!

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