A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
- In theaters: February 26, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 26, 2016
- Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Harry Shum Jr.
- Director: Yuen Woo
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: martial arts violence and brief partial nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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