A well-made, confident piece of entertainment that lacks the poetry and nuance of the first film and gets less interesting as its narrative thinness is revealed but never feels like something that’s being phoned in to make a quick buck.
Stream Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
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It’s a shame the rest of the soap-opera story doesn’t measure up to its stunts.
Sword of Destiny has an appealingly inventive, unruly genre party streak running down its figurative back.
Like so many too-late sequels, the film — directed by the first film’s action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping — rides on waves of nostalgia and little else.
The emotional connective tissue that made Lee’s film so poetic, romantic, tragic and thrilling is missing here, reducing Sword of Destiny to a series of loosely related fight sequences and gauzy, overwrought flashbacks.
Clocking in at just 96 minutes, Sword of Destiny feels heavily truncated, lacking in narrative substance. Scant characterisation and timid action choreography don’t help matters, while an over-reliance on simple sets and CGI landscapes mean Grant Major’s (The Lord of the Rings) production design lacks the resonance of the previous film.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny isn’t so much a continuation as a Xerox copy with cheap toner.
Trading on the pedigree of Ang Lee’s 2000 Oscar winner but capturing none of its soulful poetry, this martial-arts mediocrity has airborne warriors aplenty but remains a dispiritingly leaden affair with its mechanical storytelling, purely functional action sequences and clunky English-language performances.
There are a few inventive battles on a frozen pond and atop the tiled roof of a temple, but they are so CGI-enhanced as to seem cartoonish, not marvelous.
Anyone merely hoping for more gravity-defying fight sequences will be reasonably satisfied by Sword Of Destiny, which chugs along amiably enough and never goes very long without a skirmish of some sort.