REVIEW: CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON 2: SWORD OF DESTINY

CAST

Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies)
Harry Shum Jr. (Stomp The Yard)
Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Hotel Mumbai)
Jason Scott Lee (Soldier)

After eighteen years of solitude, renowned warrior-maiden Shu Lien emerges from retirement and travels to Peking, where the Green Destiny—the legendary sword of her deceased love Li Mu Bai—is located. In the forest, Shu Lien’s carriage is attacked by several warriors from the West Lotus clan. As she fights them, a masked horseman comes to her aid, and together they defeat the attackers, revealing one’s identity to be a young man called Wei Fang. At the tower of the West Lotus warlord Hades Dai, a young woman named Snow Vase arrives asking to join his ranks. As Dai approaches, she draws a sword and attempts to kill him, although he easily fights her off, and she flees. As Wei Fang makes his way through the forest, he is approached by a blind enchantress, who orders him to take her to Dai. She tells Dai that his great sword is surpassed by the Green Destiny, and prophesies that if he is to rule the Martial World, he must obtain the sword. Dai is reluctant to storm the home of the emperor’s brother, but the enchantress tells him to send Wei Fang, as the boy and the sword are bound by destiny itself.

Shu Lien arrives in Peking, and is taken to the house of Sir Te, a man like a father to her, who has recently died. Te’s son greets her and reveals that the Green Destiny is kept on display at the house, also recalling the unmentioned love between Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien. That night as Wei Fang breaks into the house and attempts to steal the sword, Snow Vase appears and fights him. During the fight, Snow Vase sees a birthmark on Wei Fang’s chest, which distracts her and allows him to escape. She calls for help and Shu Lien arrives and captures the boy. Snow Vase approaches Shu Lien and asks her to train her in the Iron Way. At a tavern, Meng Sizhao (known as Silent Wolf in the West), the horseman who came to Shu Lien’s aid, posts a warrant for warriors to join him protecting the House of Te. One warrior offers his twenty swordsmen for a high price, and attacks when rebuffed. Four warriors join Silent Wolf in the fight, and he recruits them to his cause: Flying Blade of Shantung; Thunder Fist Chan, famed in Zhejiang; Silver Dart Shi, famed in Fuzhou; and Turtle Ma, famed in that tavern.

Shu Lien begins Snow Vase’s training. That night, Silent Wolf and his warriors arrive at the Te compound. Shu Lien is shocked to see Silent Wolf, her former betrothed, as he was thought to have been killed by Hades Dai many years before. He explains that he was in love with Shu Lien, but knew that Mu Bai was her true love, and had feigned his demise to seek a life of enlightenment in the mountains, as he knew that as long as he was alive, Li Mu Bai would not have asked Shu Lien for her hand. Hades Dai rages that Wei Fang has failed in his raid, and sends his elite warrior, Mantis, to retrieve the sword. She arrives with her raiding party, and Silver Dart Shi and Turtle Ma are killed in the attack. Snow Vase attempts to free Wei Fang from his cage in the courtyard, but she is attacked by Mantis, and Wei Fang reveals the sword’s location. The blind enchantress fights Shu Lien in the sword chamber, killing Sir Te’s son when Shu Lien refuses to relinquish the sword.

As the inhabitants of the House of Te mourn the loss of their dearest companions, Snow Vase explains her connection to Wei Fang’s past. His birth mother was the legendary swordswoman Han Mei. However, as a baby, he was swapped for the infant Snow Vase by her mother, a concubine. Han Mei raised Snow Vase as her own daughter, but never stopped looking for her son. Eventually finding him at West Lotus, she was mortally wounded by Hades Dai and, as she died, implored Snow Vase to find Wei Fang.

Knowing that Dai will send people to kill Wei Fang, Snow Vase frees him, and is horrified to later hear that he has stolen the sword. Silent Wolf tracks the boy down and they fight on a frozen lake. Wei Fang’s master, Iron Crow, arrives and wounds Silent Wolf, allowing Wei Fang to escape and reach West Lotus. Wei Fang offers the sword to Hades Dai, but then attempts to kill him with it to avenge his mother. Shu Lien and the others arrive and fight Dai’s army. Shu Lien fights the enchantress and kills her, using her skills to see through the witch’s illusions. Mantis kills Flying Blade and Thunder Fist, then fights Snow Vase, who defeats her but is badly wounded. Silent Wolf fights Hades Dai on the tower, eventually killing the warlord with his own sword as he reaches for the Green Destiny. Snow Vase survives her injuries, and joins Shu Lien, Silent Wolf and Wei Fang as they take the Green Destiny to the Wudang Mountains where it will be kept safe yet again.Overall a very enjoyable movie, which really needs heart to appreciate, it may be slow at times but it truly allows audiences to be observant and to look at the minor details in such a major motion picture.It would be even better if you already read the original book by Wang Du Lu or the new novel by Justin Hill, as it covers more motivations and intentions clearly. Therefore, do not just view this as a sequel to one of the most successful Wu-Xia films ever made, appreciate this movie and take it as a film of its own, and you will enjoy it thoroughly.

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REVIEW: CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

CAST

Chow Yun-Fat (Bulletproof Monk)
Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha)
Zhang Ziyi (House of Flying Daggers)
Chang Chen (Red Cliff)
Cheng Pei-pei (Brothers Five)
Sihung Lung (The Touch)

The film is set in the Qing Dynasty during the 43rd year (1779) of the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat) is an accomplished Wudang swordsman and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) is a female warrior and professional body guard. The death of Mu Bai’s closest friend and fiancée to Shu Lien complicate these characters’ feelings for one another. They are reconnected when Mu Bai , after choosing to relinquish the warrior lifestyle, asks Shu Lien to gift his sword “Green Destiny” to their friend Sir Te (Sihung Lung) in Beijing. Long ago, Mu Bai’s master was murdered by Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei), a woman who sought to learn Wudang skills.
One evening, a masked thief sneaks into Sir Te’s estate and steals the sword. Mu Bai and Shu Lien trace the theft to Governor Yu’s compound and learn that Jade Fox has been posing as Jen’s governess for many years. Mu Bai makes the acquaintance of Inspector Tsai (Wang Deming), a police investigator from the provinces, and his daughter May (Li Li), who have come to Peking in pursuit of Fox. Fox challenges the pair and Sir Te’s servant Master Bo (Gao Xi’an) to a showdown that night. Following a protracted battle, the group is on the verge of defeat when Mu Bai arrives and outmaneuvers Fox. Before Mu Bai can kill Fox, the masked thief reappears and partners with Fox to fight. Fox resumes the fight and kills Tsai before fleeing with the thief (who is revealed to be Fox’s protégé, Jen). After seeing Jen fight Mu Bai, Fox realizes Jen had been secretly studying the Wudang manual and has surpassed her in combative skills.
At night, a desert bandit named Lo (Chang Chen) breaks into Jen’s bedroom and asks her to leave with him. A flashback reveals that in the past, when Governor Yu and his family were traveling in the western deserts, Lo and his bandits had raided Jen’s caravan and Lo had stolen her comb. She chased after him, following him to his desert cave seemingly in a quest to get her comb back. However, the pair soon fell passionately in love. Lo eventually convinced Jen to return to her family, though not before telling her a legend of a man who jumped off a cliff to make his wishes come true. Because the man’s heart was pure, he did not die. Lo came to Peking to persuade Jen not to go through with her arranged marriage. However, Jen refuses to leave with him. Later, Lo interrupts Jen’s wedding procession, begging her to come away with him. Nearby, Shu Lien and Mu Bai convince Lo to wait for Jen at Mount Wudang, where he will be safe from Jen’s family, who are furious with him. Jen runs away from her husband on the wedding night before the marriage could be consummated. Disguised in male clothing, she is accosted at an inn by a large group of warriors; armed with the Green Destiny and her own superior combat skills, she emerges victorious.
Jen visits Shu Lien, who tells her that Lo is waiting for her at Mount Wudang. After an angry dispute, the two women engage in a duel. Shu Lien is the superior fighter, but Jen wields the Green Destiny: the sword destroys each weapon that Shu Lien wields, until Shu Lien finally manages to defeat Jen with a broken sword. When Shu Lien shows mercy and lowers the sword, Jen injures Shu Lien’s arm. Mu Bai arrives and pursues Jen into a bamboo forest. Following a duel where Mu Bai regains possession of the Green Destiny, he decides to throw the sword over a waterfall. In pursuit, Jen dives into an adjoining river to retrieve the sword and is then rescued by Fox. Fox puts Jen into a drugged sleep and places her in a cavern; Mu Bai and Shu Lien discover her there. Fox suddenly reappears and attacks the others with poisoned darts. Mu Bai blocks the needles with his sword and avenges his master’s death by mortally wounding Fox, only to realize that one of the darts hit him in the neck. Fox dies, confessing that her goal had been to kill Jen because she was furious that Jen had hid the secrets of Wudang’s far superior fighting techniques from her.
As Jen exits to gather up an antidote for the poisoned dart, Mu Bai prepares to die. With his last breaths, he finally confesses his love for Shu Lien. He dies in her arms as Jen returns, too late to save him. The Green Destiny is returned to Sir Te. Jen later goes to Mount Wudang and spends one last night with Lo. The next morning, Lo finds Jen standing on a balcony overlooking the edge of the mountain. In an echo of the legend that they spoke about in the desert, she asks him to make a wish. He complies and wishes for them to be together again; back in the desert. Jen then suddenly leaps over the side of the mountain.Beautiful cinematography, an amazing soundtrack, moving performances from the whole castand some of the most breathtaking fight-scenes ever filmed. The first fight between Jen and Shu-Lien – the roof-type scene – is mesmerising. A movie classic for all ages