Saturday, 5 March 2016

REVIEW - CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: SWORD OF DESTINY (YUEN WOO-PING)


Cast aside expectations - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny may bear the title of Ang Lee's 2000 classic, but the two films are alike only in immaterial matters. Yuen Woo Ping's new film is no classic, but it succeeds at what it sets out for itself, never bringing shame upon the Crouching Tiger brand, nor upon its own achievements. Set somewhere between the artsy poeticism of its predecessor and the blusterous bombast of Yuen's other work as director, Sword of Destiny's purpose becomes defined less by its place in the history of martial arts movies, more by the place of martial arts within this movie. Yuen the director leaves the film to flounder, full of cumbersome dialogue delivered by non-native tongues; Yuen the choreographer is on typically fine form, crafting sequences of true ingenuity, executed with skill, performed with a thrilling combination of grace and fury. It's in these sequences, for which the remainder of Sword of Destiny essentially functions as pretty preparation, that one observes a master at work - cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel is at a loss to capture the beauty of Yuen's artistry, but much as the film may not pay adequate tribute to it, it's there nonetheless, and detectable if one wishes to detect it. An epic story told in the minute movements of man-to-man combat, set against awesome backdrops, both in location and in history: now does that not sound like a Crouching Tiger movie to you?