What We’re Streaming: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

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I remember the first time I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. My mom took me to the Hoyts theater in Frederick, but didn’t tell me that it was a foreign film, and I was surprised to 1) see a foreign film in Frederick, MD (we had driven to Bethesda a few years before to see Life Is Beautiful) and 2) see a sold out crowd for a Chinese film. (We saw it in December, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing; it won Best Foriegn Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score.)

I better remember the second time I saw the film. BAM showed the film as part of its All Hail the King: The Films of King Hu series in the summer of 2014, and on a hot afternoon off from work I took in the “fairy tale-like epic of warriors and thieves battling for possession of Green Destiny, a mythic 400-year-old sword,” and was delighted with the grace and power of the story, the choreographed battles, and the stories of its bad ass female leads, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) and Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), a warrior and an aristocratic young woman yearning for adventure. I became obsessed with the Jade Fox, the murderess who has been training Jen Yu—because Jen Yu won’t wait complacently for her arranged marriage or the life that is waiting for her.

I might have sketched fan art for the Jade Fox.

And so I have been beside myself waiting for the film, even if its trailer isn’t promising. Yuen Woo-ping’s sequel finds Yu Shu Lien protecting the sword, again, as a warlord (Jason Scott Lee) pursues the sword in his quest for ultimate power. Yu Shu Lien is aided by Silent Wolf (Donnie Yen), and continues her streak of being a formidable opponent.

But the cinematography and affectation in the trailer are not great. The overall affect lacks the beauty, grace, and spirit of the original film. So my expectations are not high. Nevertheless, my nose will be pressed firmly against the glass of my small TV as I root for Yu Shu Lien, and wonder if any women followed the way of the Jade Fox in years past.

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