A Letter to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Look a film with a longer name than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice!

Dear Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny,

First of all. I haven’t seen you yet. You’re coming out next Sunday and I can’t say I’m not excited. I have a part of my weekend set aside to consume you. But I have hopes and fears and an internet connection, so here we go.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Why the CG? Oh why? Please tell me it’s just that one scene falling through the pagoda. Please?

Because as much as the wire work can be silly, it holds up so much better than poorly wrought CG. And no, this isn’t ‘poorly’ wrought, but it’s obvious and I don’t want to be noticing the computer work when I should be enjoying the fight work.

Your other fight work does look beautiful. Keeping Michelle Yeoh and adding Donnie Yen are excellent choices so far as I’m concerned. In general, the surest way to keep me happy will be watching them battle it out as friends or foes. I see you’ve added a young love story. It’s in keeping with the last installment. I am not particularly excited about it. I don’t know that I’ll care.

Now. The Sword. What did you do to the sword? Okay, this is a little nitpicking-crazy person, and I might be showing some historical ignorance here — as to the care and maintenance of Chinese weaponry. But. But. Part of what made the Green Destiny cool was that it wasn’t flashy. It was unique. You knew which damn sword it was, but it wasn’t obvious. Adding jade to the hilt… it’s unnecessary, and it takes away from both the character of the weapon and its guardian — seriously, why would she do that?

And… well. It seems like you’re going ‘bigger’ with this plot. In a “save the world” kind of way. I feel like there’s this narrative fallacy that sequels must have MORE at stake in a very hamfisted and gluttonous sort of way. It needs to be something different at stake — resolving the same problems over and over again is boring. But ‘different’ and ‘bigger’ are not the same and we’ve seen so many things flounder because they plunge merrily towards the apocalyptic end of the ‘trouble’ spectrum instead of flirting with all the marvelous rainbow of ‘things that can go wrong’.

Anyway. Why am I still excited, if I have such worries?

Oh, the fight work. It’s definitely the fight work and the martial artists you’ve got performing. The battle on a frozen lake looks excellent. I’m particularly excited to see some good spear choreography. I love the fights I’ve seen Donnie Yen do. The fights in Hero are great — but the first one is my favorite. And all of Ip Man. All of it.

Good fight work is one of my guilty pleasures. I’ll put up with far more when it comes to poor plotting and loose characterization if the martial artists are good. But I’d rather not. I’d rather that all of it was good.

I’m looking forward to meeting you.