A different way of telling a story
One of the worst ways to make a cult movie is to set out to make a cult movie.
The film's masterful storytelling did its job. The message was clear. No need to overdo.
So, Netflix take on the sequel to Ang Lee's original 2000 spectacle which gladly reached a much wider, international audience for a martial art movie. It continues of the sword and fantasy during the Qing dynasty being central to Michelle Yeoh's Yu Shu Lien and this time, Donnie Yen playing the complicated romantic interest. He's not replacing Yun-Fat Chow's Li Mu Bai, of course not, but is simply another character thrown into the fray. The actually phrase "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was first coined by the Chinese poet, Yu Xin, and is sometimes use to refer to the real life military strategist and philosopher, Zhuge Liang or sometimes known as Kongming, the same guy who invented the fashionable lanterns that people release into the sky. Being symbolic of a true master in hiding, possibly waiting. Almost like Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. But I'm not entirely sure who it's referring to in the film. The legendary Woo Ping Yuen, director of many Kung fu classics such as The Drunken Master and fight choreographer for The Matrix returns to direct this sequel. I say return as he was, of course, the fight choreographer for Ang Lee's previous film, The fighting is exceptionally creative, fantastic and plentiful but that shouldn't be too surprising with Woo Ping at the helm. The wire work is unfortunately too obvious, some of the fighting being comical but pays homage to the classic Kung Fu's of old and on the whole, beautifully executed and captured. Michelle Yeoh returns and as always, does impressively well considering she is not trained in the martial arts. Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen does what he does best and is in no means a disappointment to watch him in action playing Silent Wolf. (Makes you think of Chuck Norris yes?) But it was great to see Jason Scott Lee, though much older than Disney's Mowgli and the Bruce Lee he played in Dragon. Shigeru Umebayashi does a grand score, respecting traditional music of the orient and creating a strong sense of mysticism and fantasy. Something to be noted about this film is the spoken language. Being filmed in English because surprisingly, Ang Lee's film insulted much of the mandarin speaking world, convincing the studios to choose an English dialogue so not to repeat the same mistake. Only three of the four key characters in Ang Lee's film actually spoke fluent mandarin. Whilst it's a good film, it has loss the majestic gracefulness the first film had, a certain elegance and finesse, but as a stand alone martial art picture, it's good enough and very enjoyable. Running Time: 7 The Cast: 8 Performance: 7 Direction: 7 Story: 6 Script: 6 Creativity: 8 Soundtrack: 7 Job Description: 5 The Extra Bonus Points: 061% 6/10
In many ways watching this sequel to the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is an experience equal to the original, although the story line is not as convincing or compelling as the original. What's to like are the flawed characters still driven by a profound inner goodness or badness made possible by the time and country in which the story is set. The unique oriental capacity to have human beings perform apparently superhuman feats is, at times, overdone and that is the films main flaw when compared to the first film. And perhaps the linking up of all the set pieces lacks the finesse of the original.However, it is very watchable, well acted, beautifully photographed, and memorable from the very beginning when the breathtaking scenery is caught with such rich outlines, camera angles, and clever technology. All the way through are these rich feasts of panoramas painting an atmosphere which is unique to this genre.I have awarded it seven out of ten, but if I had to judge the film on cinematography alone it would be closer to ten.
Netflix strikes again! This time they chose to ruin the memory of a the 16 year old classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a sequel that shines in being utterly boring. The film is only 100 mins long but it seems to last so much longer. The story is poorly constructed and there so little happening that halfway through the movie I hardly knew what is was about. Something about the titular sword, but it seems so unfocused and aimless. You never have the sense that the story is going anywhere or that the characters have some clear purpose. Also the characters are dull and the dialogue utterly uninspired. They did an effort to make it look good but strangely enough this film looks like a TV movie (well it actually is) that has this strong 'shot in a studio' look (much like War Horse for example). I didn't check the director before watching it but was very surprised Woo-Ping (action choreographer Matrix films) was at the wheel. So the action should at least be good right? Wrong, the fight scenes are slow and dull, not fast and furious. So I would recommend to skip this film entirely, certainly if you liked the original and want to keep your memory of it intact.
Obviously this film is different from the first one in many ways. It has its positive and negative qualities. As a sequel, it lacks the impressive feel, mood, and production style of Ang Lee.But I really like this movie. My least favorite viewing was the first. It's grown on me. The Kung Fu is superb, in several ways superior to the first movie IMHO. I don't know if it's CGI, or just better techniques, but all of the gravity-defying "light body" maneuvers in this movie are miles ahead of what I've seen in other movies. Compared to something like Iron Monkey or the first Crouching Tiger, this movie is downright realistic in the way people fly all over the place. For example, Donnie Yen's fighting entrance where he flies into the scene and lands looks absolutely amazing. The movie is full of this and it's fantastic to watch. There are multiple flying scenes in the first Crouching Tiger than make me wince every time.I'm a big Donnie Yen fan and he was perfect for this role. With Michelle Yeoh, you really can't ask for better actors in a kung fu film. With Woo-Ping Yuen and company you have some of the best kung fu filmmakers in history, and it shows.Something about the story, writing, and feel don't work perfectly for me, which prevents me from rating it higher. But I'm going to watch this movie a lot, and I've already fallen for it.Personally I'd beg for more movies like this. I don't even need them in English, subtitles are fine.