Ever since the end of the first Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, warrior Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) has been living in solitude, but a new cause of commotion in Peking turns out to be all it takes to tempt her out of retirement. The legendary sword of Li Mu Bai, the Green Destiny, arrives at the city, and Shu Lien is eager to protect it.
Obviously, Sword Of Destiny isn’t as good as the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It would have been extremely difficult to match that given how brilliant it is. But it’s not all that bad either, as so many feared. It just doesn’t possess the spirit or excitement that made the first one so wonderful.
Sword Of Destiny feels like a completely different film. The reason for this is simple: it is a completely different film. For starters, original director Ang Lee had nothing to do with it. It’s also in an entirely different language, seeing as Netflix decided that everyone should be speaking English, presumably to make it more accessible for its worldwide audience.
Also, Yeoh aside, none of the original cast is the same. Granted, a lot of their characters are now dead, but the brilliant Zhang Ziyi was only willing to reprise her role as warrior Jen Yu if Lee was directing.
It’s disheartening that we never get to find out how Jen Yu and the other big players have been occupying themselves since Shu Lien left for retirement, but a large cast of new characters keep things interesting, including masked horseman Wei Fang (Harry Shum Jr), a protector of the House of Te, Meng Sizhao (Donnie Yen), and a promising young fighter named Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who becomes eager to train under Shu Lien.
The best thing about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was always the dreamlike fight sequences, and thankfully Sword Of Destiny does at least keep those. They are just as exciting and mesmerising as they were back in 2000, or perhaps even more so. But between those scenes (of which there are many), the story just isn’t as captivating as it needs to be.