Starring: Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr.
Director: Woo-Ping Yuen
Running Time: 96 mins
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny is an American/Chinese film and the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. After capturing a fighter from a rival gang, Yu Shu Lien discovers that the Sword of Destiny, in her possession, is being fiercely hunted, and threatens everyone in her city.
Despite its acclaim, I’ve never been a huge fan of the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Its visuals were stunning, but I never found it as exciting or engrossing a story as expected. That said, it’s still a million times better than this awful sequel, that feels so much like a half-hearted nostalgia fest with lacklustre action, sub-par acting, average visuals and an appalling plot.
But before I get into any of that, I want to just point out my biggest issue with this film; the one thing that infuriated me from the first second: it’s in English. Now, I’ve got no problem with watching dubbed versions of films, or characters from foreign countries speaking English in order to make a film more widely accessible, but when you’re making a sequel to a film that was entirely in Mandarin, and using the same characters and setting, changing it to English is ridiculous, and is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this unworthy sequel.
Besides that, I was also frustrated by this film’s plot. Whilst I didn’t love the original, I was able to appreciate some of the deeper themes and meanings that drove its story, which did at least develop as the film went on. In Sword Of Destiny, however, the plot is pretty much stationary for the entire duration.
In short, nothing of interest happens. There should have been a degree of tension as the rival gang attempts to retrieve its prisoner and capture the all-powerful Sword of Destiny, but that was completely absent. Instead, we have a random semi-love story between a young trainee of Yu Shu Lien and the prisoner, and then a bunch of fight scenes just chucked in here and there with no emotional set-up, something that’s integral to making a good and engaging action movie.
So, I didn’t care about the fights, because, in the grand scheme of things, they just didn’t feel like they mattered. However, following on from the spectacular visuals of the original, surely the action scenes could have salvaged some enjoyment in that department here, right?
Well, not exactly. Whilst the visuals are fine, and some of the choreography is entertaining, it still feels like a completely half-hearted attempt to replicate the original, so there’s not too much to get excited about there either.
Overall, Sword Of Destiny is hugely disappointing. It’s the sort of movie that’s both come out far too late after the original, and feels almost more like an unofficial TV sequel (think Mean Girls 2 or something like that) with its general poor quality and consistently tedious plot that fails to instil any real entertainment or intrigue whatsoever, so that’s why it gets a 4.6 from me.