(US/China - 2016)
Directed by Yuen Wo-Ping. Written by John Fusco. Cast: Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jason Scott Lee, Eugenia Yuan, Roger Yuan, Juju Chan, Chris Pang, Woon Young Park, Darryl Quan, Veronica Ngo, Gary Young, Shuya Chang. (Unrated, 101 mins)
On the heels of last year's success of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, JURASSIC WORLD, and STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, and despite the disappointment of TERMINATOR: GENISYS, everything old is new again. 2016 is now the year of the belated and unnecessary sequel that you're getting whether you want it or not: we've already had ZOOLANDER 2 (following the 2001 original) met with shrugging ambivalence, with MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (first film released in 2002), AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (11 years since the remake), ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (MUPPETS MOST WANTED director James Bobin's followup to Tim Burton's little-loved 2010 ALICE IN WONDERLAND), INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (a Will Smith-less sequel to the 1996 blockbuster), KINDERGARTEN COP 2 (starring Dolph Lundgren, 26 years after the Arnold Schwarzenegger hit), THE STRANGERS 2 (eight years since the first one), and BAD SANTA 2 (13 years) on the slate. No one was really clamoring for further installments of any of these films (apparently, Nia Vardalos forgot that nobody gave a shit about the short-lived 2003 TV spinoff MY BIG FAT GREEK LIFE, cancelled by CBS after seven episodes), and such is the case with CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: SWORD OF DESTINY, which arrives 16 years after Ang Lee's revered Oscar-winner, a perfectly-balanced mix of arthouse drama and mainstream action, and the key film in making Asian wuxia accessible in the US. None of the original film's primary creative personnel, from Lee on down, are involved in this sequel with the exception of veteran martial-arts coordinator Yuen Wo-Ping, who's been promoted to director in Lee's stead. Of the 2000 film's cast, only Michelle Yeoh reprises her role as the stoical, dedicated warrior Yu Shu Lien. Unlike the first Mandarin-spoken installment, the sequel was filmed in English, and other than a limited number of IMAX screenings, is debuting on Netflix.