|Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Yuen Woo-ping|
|Screenplay by||John Fusco|
|Based on||Iron Knight, Silver Vase|
by Wang Dulu
|Music by||Shigeru Umebayashi|
|Cinematography||Newton Thomas Sigel|
|Edited by||Jeff Betancourt|
|Box office||US$31 million|
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (Chinese: ?:?) is a 2016 American-Chinese wuxia film directed by Yuen Woo-ping and written by John Fusco, based on the novel Iron Knight, Silver Vase by Wang Dulu. It is also a sequel to the 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The film stars Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr., Jason Scott Lee, Roger Yuan, Woon Young Park, Eugenia Yuan, JuJu Chan, Chris Pang, Veronica Ngo, Shuya Chang and Natasha Liu Bordizzo. The film was released in Hong Kong on February 18, in mainland China on February 19 and worldwide on Netflix outside China on February 26, 2016.
After eighteen years of solitude, renowned warrior-maiden Shu Lien emerges from retirement and travels to Peking, where the Green Destiny--the legendary sword of her deceased love Li Mu Bai--is located. In the forest, Shu Lien's carriage is attacked by several warriors from the West Lotus clan. As she fights them, a masked horseman comes to her aid, and together they defeat the attackers, revealing one's identity to be a young man called Wei Fang.
At the tower of the West Lotus warlord Hades Dai, a young woman named Snow Vase arrives asking to join his ranks. As Dai approaches, she draws a sword and attempts to kill him, although he easily fights her off, and she flees. As Wei Fang makes his way through the forest, he is approached by a blind enchantress, who orders him to take her to Dai. She tells Dai that his great sword is surpassed by the Green Destiny, and prophesies that if he is to rule the Martial World, he must obtain the sword. Dai is reluctant to storm the home of the emperor's brother, but the enchantress tells him to send Wei Fang, as the boy and the sword are bound by destiny itself.
Shu Lien arrives in Peking, and is taken to the house of Sir Te, a man like a father to her, who has recently died. Te's son greets her and reveals that the Green Destiny is kept on display at the house, also recalling the unmentioned love between Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien. That night as Wei Fang breaks into the house and attempts to steal the sword, Snow Vase appears and fights him. During the fight, Snow Vase sees a birthmark on Wei Fang's chest, which distracts her and allows him to escape. She calls for help and Shu Lien arrives and captures the boy. Snow Vase approaches Shu Lien and asks her to train her in the Iron Way.
At a tavern, Meng Sizhao (known as Silent Wolf in the West), the horseman who came to Shu Lien's aid, posts a warrant for warriors to join him protecting the House of Te. One warrior offers his thirty swordsmen for a high price, and attacks when rebuffed. Four warriors join Silent Wolf in the fight, and he recruits them to his cause: Flying Blade of Shantung; Thunder Fist Chan, famed in Zhejiang; Silver Dart Shi, famed in Fuzhou; and Turtle Ma, famed in that tavern.
Shu Lien begins Snow Vase's training. That night, Silent Wolf and his warriors arrive at the Te compound. Shu Lien is shocked to see Silent Wolf, her former betrothed, as he was thought to have been killed by Hades Dai many years before. He explains that he was in love with Shu Lien, but knew that Mu Bai was her true love, and had feigned his demise to seek a life of enlightenment in the mountains, as he knew that as long as he was alive, Li Mu Bai would not have asked Shu Lien for her hand.
Hades Dai rages that Wei Fang has failed in his raid, and sends his elite warrior, Mantis, to retrieve the sword. She arrives with her raiding party, and Silver Dart Shi and Turtle Ma are killed in the attack. Snow Vase attempts to free Wei Fang from his cage in the courtyard, but she is attacked by Mantis, and Wei Fang reveals the sword's location. The blind enchantress fights Shu Lien in the sword chamber, killing Sir Te's son when Shu Lien refuses to relinquish the sword.
As the inhabitants of the House of Te mourn the loss of their dearest companions, Snow Vase explains her connection to Wei Fang's past. His birth mother was the legendary swordswoman Han Mei. However, as a baby, he was swapped for the infant Snow Vase by her mother, a concubine. Han Mei raised Snow Vase as her own daughter, but never stopped looking for her son. Eventually finding him at West Lotus, she was mortally wounded by Hades Dai and, as she died, implored Snow Vase to find Wei Fang.
Knowing that Dai will send people to kill Wei Fang, Snow Vase frees him, and is horrified to later hear that he has stolen the sword. Silent Wolf tracks the boy down and they fight on a frozen lake. Wei Fang's master, Iron Crow, arrives and wounds Silent Wolf, allowing Wei Fang to escape and reach West Lotus. Wei Fang offers the sword to Hades Dai, but then attempts to kill him with it to avenge his mother. Shu Lien and the others arrive and fight Dai's army. Shu Lien fights the enchantress and kills her, using her skills to see through the witch's illusions. Mantis kills Flying Blade and Thunder Fist, then fights Snow Vase, who defeats her but is badly wounded. Silent Wolf fights Hades Dai on the tower, eventually killing the warlord with his own sword as he reaches for the Green Destiny.
Snow Vase survives her injuries, and joins Shu Lien, Silent Wolf and Wei Fang as they take the Green Destiny to the Wudang Mountains where it will be kept safe yet again.
In January 2013, it was reported that a sequel to the 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would begin shooting in May, with Harvey Weinstein producing. Fight choreography would be by Yuen Woo Ping, The script by John Fusco would be based on the fifth and final book of the Crane-Iron Series, Iron Knight, Silver Vase. On March 18, 2013, actor Donnie Yen confirmed rumors that he had been offered a role in the new film. Around the same time, there were also conflicting reports on whether Michelle Yeoh had been asked to reprise her role of Yu Shu Lien.
On May 16, 2013, it was officially announced that the sequel had been approved by the studio. Initially titled Iron Knight, Silver Vase (the same title as its source material), the film was then re-titled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend. Donnie Yen was confirmed to star as Silent Wolf while Michelle Yeoh was confirmed to be reprising her role as Yu Shu Lien.
On August 20, 2013, it was reported that Zhang Ziyi was in talks to reprise her role as Jen Yu, but Zhang's agent Ji Lingling told the media that that was not true and stated, "Zhang would reprise her role only if the director was Ang Lee". If talks happened they did not result with Zhang's addition to the production. Instead Shuya Chang was cast while the character appears to have been renamed Han Mei, who is very similar in background as a rogue swordswoman of Wudan to the Jen Yu character.
On June 16, 2014, it was announced that the film would be co-produced by Pegasus Media, China Film Group Corporation, and The Weinstein Company, with a release date in 2016. On July 30, 2014, actor Harry Shum, Jr. was cast in the role of Wei-Fang.
While it was initially announced that production on the film would begin in June 2014 with location shooting in New Zealand and China, shooting was later bumped to August 2014. In September 2014, Variety reported that principal photography was underway in New Zealand.
The leaked order from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) Department of Film Management revealed the film's production was approved with amendments, including replacing White Lotus Society with a fictitious martial arts faction, downplaying "Oppose the Qing, Restore the Ming" content, controlling the amount of gore and violence, and amending Yu Xiulian's line "A superior army breaks its enemy without fighting," to "The army which breaks its enemy without fighting is the superior one."
The film was shot in English and dubbed to Mandarin, unlike its predecessor which was the other way around.
On September 29, 2014, it was announced that Netflix and The Weinstein Company's Harvey Weinstein had made a deal to release the feature film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Legend on Netflix. The sequel would be released via RADiUS-TWC simultaneously on Netflix and in selected IMAX theatres on August 28, 2015. The day after Netflix's announcement, American cinema chain Regal Entertainment Group announced that they would not show the film in their theaters. Regal's Russ Nunley declined to be part of "an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3 inches wide on a smart phone", as opposed to a regular theater experience. The same day, AMC, Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, and Cineworld also announced they would not show the film. IMAX's CEO Richard Gelfond argued on the rejection by some chains, saying, "This is a test, and I can't tell you for sure that it's going to work, but I can tell you for sure that attempting to innovate is a good idea because as technology changes, viewers change, and we have to figure out what does or doesn't work". On July 7, 2015, the film was removed from the August 28, 2015 slot and was moved back to a fourth-quarter day and date release. A trailer for the film was released on December 7, 2015. The film was scheduled to be released in China on February 8, 2016, but was pushed back to February 19. The film was released worldwide outside China on Netflix and in 10-15 IMAX screens in the United States on February 26, 2016.
The film grossed US$20.8 million on its opening weekend in China.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 20% based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 5.15/10. The critics consensus reads, "Paling in comparison to its predecessor in every conceivable way, Sword of Destiny is a lazy sequel that never justifies its own cynical existence." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 47 out of 100 based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Justin Chang of Variety wrote: "Trading on the pedigree of Ang Lee's 2000 Oscar winner but capturing none of its soulful poetry, this martial-arts mediocrity has airborne warriors aplenty but remains a dispiritingly leaden affair with its mechanical storytelling, purely functional action sequences and clunky English-language performances."