When I ran my list of the 50 best films from 2000 – 2009, many people were surprised by my pick for the top spot. Once a year, though, I return to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and once a year, I fall in love all over again.
The film, sold to audiences on the strength of its magical, wuxia-style action scenes, is really two different epic romances told side-by-side. What makes the film hurt so much, and what keeps me coming back to it, is the clear-eyed way it deconstructs happy endings and what it is we want versus what it is we often have to accept. Michelle Yeoh gave one of the greatest performances of the 2000s in the film, and you'll have to forgive me if I get a little swoony thinking of her returning to the role.
There's nothing about the trailer for the Netflix Original Film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny” that makes me think it will be the true equal of the original, but adding Donnie Yen to the mix and aiming for something that feels like big crazy fantasy seems like it could be tons of fun.
I'm intrigued by the plan to do a day-and-date IMAX release of this even as Netflix premieres it. Seems like the biggest test yet of whatever this new distribution model is that Netflix envisions. Right now, they are producing tons of great content, and they've surprised me several times already. I'd love for this to be more than an adequate sequel to something that means so much to me, even if I'm not sure what to make of Yuen Woo-Ping as a director. The fights will no doubt dazzle, but I don't think he's as strong a storyteller as Ang Lee. I'm sure they're after totally different things, though. While Lee's film was about love and bitter endings, Woo-Ping normally leans far more on the action than the drama as a filmmaker.
Even so, I dig this moody little spot, and I can't wait for February so I can see exactly what they've done with this world and these characters.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny” arrives on wires on February 26, 2016.