by Sherif Awad
In one week, I had the chance of watching three actions films: The new Star Wars, the new Superman vs. Batman and the new Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I can say that audience loved the new Star Wars because it recycled the main plot of the first trilogy and hated the new Superman vs. Batman because it was too dark for the audience to accept it that way. As for the new Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon titled Sword of Destiny, I can say it shared the same plot elements of the new Star Wars because it features a young powerful man who was seduced to have more power hence giving up his soul to greedy master which drove to fight for their dark side.
Let us remember that the first Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was made sixteen years ago with three great Asian stars Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi under the direction of the great director Ang Lee. The film won four Oscars including Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography and was nominated in six other categories. The story took place during the 18th century and focused on the two warrior Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) who trying to protect the sword called The Green Destiny from falling into the wrong hands. The film ended with Li Mu Bai dying from a poisoned dart in the arms Yu Shu Lien while The Green Destiny is returned to Sir Te’s estate.
In 2013, it was reported that a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will begin shooting. However, Zhang Ziyi declined to reprise her role as warrior Han Mei (Shuya Chang played in this sequel however her role was minor in the plot)because the new film had another director Yuen Woo-Ping although the latter was the director of major Asian martial arts not to mention his choreography of many Asian and international films including The Matrix trilogy and Kill Bill’s two volumes. The film was ready in September 2014 but it was rescheduled for release in 2016, debuting in Asia and US during last February. On the marvelous Netflix, I caught it him this week. The sequel takes many years after the events of the first film as a warrior Yu Shu Lien emerges from solitude to travel to Peking, where the legendary sword of Li Mu Bai, known as the Green Destiny, is located. In the forest, several warriors from the West Lotus clan attack her carriage. As she fights them, a masked man comes to her aid, and together they defeat the attackers. Following her arrival, warrior Wei Feng (Harry Shum Jr.) attempts to steal the sword but Snow Vase, another young female warrior played by (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) fights him and secured his captivity. While Shu Lien trains Snow Vase, warlord Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee) prepares to save his protégé Wei Feng and have the sword for himself.
The relationship between Snow Vase and Wei Feng revealed to be something similar to Star Wars: they are brother and sister who were separated at birth. Wei Feng was seduced by warlord Hades Dai to join his ranks “and the dark side of the force”. I was wondering if George Lucas ever read the writings of Wang Dulu (1909–1977), on which the two Crouching Tiger films were based. Who knows?
The new film welcome another great martial art star Donnie Yen who has briefly appeared in major US films like Blade II and Highlander: Endgame but not as top-billed like his counterparts Jet Li or Jackie Chan. However, he is quite known to global audience of this specific film form and he is currently shooting the new XXX sequel with Vin Diesel. Donnie Yen often improvised on films set and reported to choreograph a major fighting scene on the snow in Sword of Destiny.
Another actor I enjoyed seeing again was Jason Scott Lee who played the main villain. Although he is good in doing so the way he did in Soldier (1998) starring Kurt Russell, I still remember his wonderful turn as the king of martial arts in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993). We must remember that Donnie Yen, played Bruce Lee’s master in three films.
I recommend Sword of Destiny to fans of the genre although it might appear less powerful than the original film, which is a rule that applies to most sequels. This brings me to debate over the new Superman vs. Batman. I guess the only one to blame is studio executive who always think of sequels and always think these sequels will bring more money. In doing so, they give the character Rocky Balboa cancer in his latest appearance in Creed and killed Superman at the end of the aforementioned Superman vs. Batman. When will they know that films and characters should be left alone as time had already iconized them in history?