Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, which is the sequel to (of course) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is arriving some sixteen years after director Ang Lee’s martial arts movie – itself based on one part of Wang Dulu’s literary martial arts series, the Crane-Iron Pentalogy – became both a critical darling and an international box office success, cementing its status as a modern martial arts classic on its way to taking home four Oscars for its efforts, including for Best Foreign Language Film.
Naturally, there’s been a fair amount of skepticism surrounding Sword of Destiny‘s ability to come close to reaching the bar set by Lee’s film (much less raise it) since the project was announced – not least of all because most of the main players on the first Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (cast and crew alike) aren’t returning in the sequel. Netflix, which will be exclusively streaming the movie, has now released a second trailer for Sword of Destiny that provides a better look at the film’s action and story details alike, in the hopes of generating more interest in the martial arts movie sequel. Give it a watch, above.
As the trailer illustrates, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Michelle Yeoh is reprising her role as the seasoned warrior Yu Shu Lien in Sword of Destiny, for a story wherein Lien must seek allies in a fight to protect the late Li Mu Bai’s (played by Chow Yun-Fat in Lee’s film) legendary sword – the Green Destiny – from the power-hungry Chinese warlord Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee). Other key players in the Sword of Destiny‘s plot include IP Man trilogy star Donnie Yen – who’s also costarring in forthcoming tentpoles like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage – as the warrior Silent Wolf, as well as Juju Chan (Fist of the Dragon), Harry Shum Jr. (Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments), and Shuya Chang (Revenge of the Green Dragons), among others.
Sword of Destiny was helmed by Woo-Ping Yuen, a Chinese filmmaker who has close to forty years of experience directing martial arts movies under his belt – and as such, it comes as no surprise that the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel looks to be solid enough, when it concerns the various martial arts combat sequences and its sweeping “epic” visual style. Nevertheless, Sword of Destiny appears to lack the rich atmosphere and painterly imagery that made Lee’s direction on the first Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon installment so impressive; not to mention, some of the “Wire fu” acrobatics and CGI elements featured in the Sword of Destiny‘s trailers have a “budget” appearance to them (translation: they look a bit cheap). Having the movie’s largely-native Chinese cast speak in English doesn’t help in that respect, either.
Combine that with a narrative crafted by screenwriter John Fusco – whose previously wrote the scripts for such movies as Hidalgo and The Forbidden Kingdom, in addition to creating Netflix’s own historical epic series Marco Polo – that seems even further removed from its source material that Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie (and all the more generic for it), and thus far Sword of Destiny looks like… well, not bad per se, but not all that great either. The actual film may yet surprise, but on the scale of “Netflix original moves” established so far, Sword of Destiny looks to fall somewhere between the high artistry of Beasts of No Nation and the (very) low bar set by The Ridiculous 6.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny will debut on Netflix and in select theaters on February 26th, 2016.