Netflix has just released the first trailer for the highly anticipated sequel “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.” This movie is being released 16 years after the original which was directed by Ang Lee and succeeded in reaching a huge American audience that most foreign movies never get. Michelle Yeoh reprises her role of Yu Shu Lien and the sequel is directed by Yuen Woo-ping, the renowned martial arts choreographer who choreographed the thrilling fight scenes in “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” “The Matrix” trilogy and both “Kill Bill” films.
Based on the acclaimed novel “Iron Knight, Silver Vase’ by Wang Dulu, the fifth in the Crane Iron Pentalogy, this sequel is said to tell “an epic story of lost love, young love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption, set against breathtaking action in an epic martial arts battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of the Martial World.”
Watching the trailer, it looks like Yuen Woo-ping is intent on outdoing the action sequences he choreographed in the original. At the same time it looks like this sequel was shot digitally instead of on film, and it’s hard to ignore the CGI effects used especially in the trailer’s last big action sequence which has two characters falling off a building in a literally smashing fashion. The trailer is also set to an electronic cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Bad Moon Rising” which is interesting to listen to but also seems out of place for a martial arts movie like this.
It is great, however, to see Yeoh return for the sequel as she was one of the best things about the original, and it helps to give this sequel a feeling of legitimacy. She also looks to be only cast member returning from the original as this one features new characters played by Donnie Yen, Harry Shum Jr. and Jason Scott Lee among others. The character of Jen Yu does make a brief appearance in this trailer, but she is now played by Shuya Chang and not Zhang Ziyi. Ziyi was approached to reprise her role but turned it down saying she would only appear in the sequel if it was directed by Ang Lee.
While a lot of great action scenes are featured in this trailer, one has to wonder if Woo-ping can balance those out with the story and the characters. What made “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” such a brilliant movie is that Lee managed to do just that, and he had the help of an extraordinary cast of actors to work with. The action was especially exhilarating because we cared about the characters and believed in what they stood for. Can Woo-ping maintain a balance between action and story the way Lee did? He has plenty of experience working behind the camera having directed films like “Iron Monkey,” “Tai Chi Master” and “Drunken Master,” but there are very few directors who are anywhere as talented in Lee when it comes to mastering every single element of a motion picture.
Still, this trailer does not make the sequel look like a boring affair, and those who loved the original will surely be in line or online to see it. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” will be available to watch on Netflix starting February 26, 2016, and it will also start showing in select IMAX theaters on that same day.