Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny Movie Poster Image
Long-awaited martial arts sequel more brutal than original.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes loyalty, bravery, love, and honor. "Some things are worth fighting for." Good triumphs over evil.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroes -- both male and female -- fulfill promises, protect others, and fight for what they believe in. Chief villain is power-hungry and brutal and will stop at nothing to reach his goals; his minions follow him blindly.

Violence

Approximately one dozen martial arts battles, both brawls and one-on-one fights, some quite brutal. Characters are stabbed, impaled, slashed, kicked, beaten, and held with knives and swords at their throats, and they fall from great distances. Many featured characters are killed, some close-up; blood flows; bodies are strewn everywhere.

Sex

Some embracing. A nude female gets into a bath, seen from the back only.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A band of heroes drinks wine; one of them gets drunk and brags about often drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is a martial arts adventure and love story, a sequel to the wildly popular and admired Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon made in 2000. Michelle Yeoh is the only returning cast member; the "Green Destiny" sword is back to move the story. Directed by Yuen Woo-Ping, the choreographer of the original, the film is less balletic than the first, with scenes of sword fights, knives, and hand-to-hand combat leading to bloody injury and the death of both heroes and villains. Characters are stabbed, impaled, slashed, kicked, and badly beaten. To counter the violence, the film delivers strong messages about loyalty, courage, a moral high ground, and the power of love. A nude woman is glimpsed as she gets into a bath (a view from behind). One member of the band of heroes is a proud lover of wine (occasionally to excess); the men drink wine together in one scene. The release of this movie comes more than 15 years after the original, and though it will have more resonance for those who have seen the first, it's intended to stand on its own.

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What's the story?

Years have passed since the events of the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Courageous, beautiful Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh reprising her role) is widowed, living a solitary life without her beloved Li Mu Bai. But mourning the death of one of his family members, she travels for the funeral only to find that once again the Green Destiny, a sword of mythical importance, is in danger. This time the villain is Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee), who wants the sword so he can rule the martial world. An epic battle begins, with one of the first skirmishes bringing a mystery man from Yu Shu Lien's past back into her life, along with a band of his motley warriors. The addition of young Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), a would-be Yu Shu Lien protégé, and Tiefang (Harry Shum, Jr. from Glee), an errant thief from Hades Dai's camp, brings romance to the war zone. Still, the battle remains at the center of the story, with (as in the first movie) two sets of lovers' destinies in the balance. 

Is it any good?

Missing the "wow" factor of the original's unprecedented mix of lyrical martial arts and epic romance, the sequel needed to be strikingly inventive and well-executed to be special; sadly, it's not. Relying on the same story, with a few twists, and adding some stock "quirky" characters doesn't help. Nor do the weak performances of some of the actors. Still, audiences will root for the strong female warriors, as well as the star-crossed lovers; and they'll boo the hissing evil villain on his quest for power. In his transition to director, Yuen Woo-Ping has created some eye-opening fight sequences, far rougher and bloodier than those he choreographed for the first movie. Because of the brutality, this film is best for mature teens.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the challenge of making film sequels. What were your expectations for this new movie?  Did it meet those expectations? If not, why not?

  • Living The Iron Way is described as "defying the laws of physics." Does the heroine Yu Shen Lien believe there is a moral and/or emotional component to that concept? How does she live a fully realized Iron Way?

  • Find out what a "MacGuffin" is in films or stories. Is the Green Destiny a MacGuffin? Why, or why not?

Movie details

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