Life of Pi director Ang Lee's seminal martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a surprise hit worldwide, and with a $128 million box office take in the United States, stands as the highest-grossing foreign film of all time. It's elegant, high-flying action earned it a place near the top of our list of 12 Great Martial Arts Movie Fight Scenes, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for six other Oscars, including Best Picture. It remains an iconic martial arts drama to this day.
Reports of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 originally surfaced earlier this year, with The Weinstein Company looking to start production in May of this year. Since this month is nearly over, it looks like that particular timetable has been pushed back. Original reports mentioned that the Weinsteins were fighting with Sony over the rights to the original author's work, but it appears that any rights issues have been settled. News on the sequel has surfaced yet again, and as has been previously reported, Ang Lee will not be returning as director.
The Weinstein Company has announced that Wo Ping Yuen is set to direct Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 - The Green Destiny, with a script by John Fusco (Spirit, Hidalgo), and will go before cameras in March of 2014. Wo Ping is a master stunt coordinator, having worked on the original, and whose long list of credits include Kill Bill: Vol. 2, The Grandmaster, and Kung Fu Hustle. Michelle Yeoh will reprise her role as swordstress Yu Shu Lien, with Donnie Yen as Silent Wolf.
Despite the fairly self-contained nature of the original film, it was based on the fourth of a five-book series - commonly known as the "Crane Iron Pentalogy" - by Chinese author Wang Dulu, which were originally published between 1938 and 1942. The fifth book, titled Iron Knight, Silver Vase, will form the basis of the sequel, and was originally the film's title, according to previous reports. The plot concerns the son of one of the characters of the original (the Iron Knight) and how he is switched as a child with a baby girl (the Silver Vase) and his attempt as an adult to find his true identity. Expect the film's plot to take great liberties.
Harvey Weinstein gushed about working with Master Yuen: "He is a first-class director and choreographer, and I am thrilled to be teaming up with him once more. With John Fusco’s incredible script and the dream team of Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh we are in great shape." While this should no doubt bring a solid cast and crew, the cornball title (the Green Destiny was the sword in the first one, we know) and conspicuous absence of Ang Lee may very well point to a simple cash grab, with new director Wo Ping's action-centered resume a sign that the sequel will focus more on spectacle than the impressively deep characterization of the original. This is still a beloved property however, and thirteen years later there remains a core group of fans that might stay away in droves if the filmmakers drop the ball.
No news yet on a release date, but stay tuned for more information as things develop.