IN ANG LEE’S FOOT­STEPS

Hong Kong’s YuenWoo-ping to give Crouch­ingTiger, Hid­denDragon se­quel a new twist, re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO -

Os­car-win­ning Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon took au­di­ences by storm when it was re­leased 15 years ago. Now, 15 years af­ter Ang Lee’s in­ter­na­tional hit won four prizes at the 73th Academy Awards, the im­pres­sive Chi­nese wuxia (mar­tial arts) ti­tle has a se­quel be­ing made by TheWe­in­stein Com­pany. But it won’t be Lee at the helm. Kung fu en­thu­si­asts will, how­ever, be de­lighted to know that Hong Kong vet­eran film­maker Yuen Woo-ping is the di­rec­tor of the latest ti­tle, since Lee showed no in­ter­est in re­peat­ing a sim­i­lar story.

“Film­mak­ing is part of life. I’ll do it when­ever I still can do it. But for me, Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon has be­come the past,” Lee said at the 2013 Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.

De­tails of the se­quel were shared on Mon­day in Bei­jing, re­port­edly from a place not far from the new film’s sets.

Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon II: The Green Leg­end will hit main­land the­aters on Feb 8, 2016, dur­ing the Chi­nese Lu­nar New Year.

The Chi­nese pre­miere date is one week be­fore its North Amer­ica re­lease. It is sched­uled to si­mul­ta­ne­ously open in­IMAXcin­e­mas and on Net­flix for online screen­ing.

In­dus­try sources say that the se­quel may find it dif­fi­cult to sur­pass the mile­stone first in­stall­ment.

For the record, Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon, which cost $17 mil­lion, is one of the high­est-earn­ing for­eign lan­guage movies in North Amer­ica. It earned $128 mil­lion in the United States and grossed $213 mil­lion around the world.

Along­side com­mer­cial suc­cess, re­ceived high praise from crit­ics.

While ear­lier re­ports said that in­vestors had reached out to Ohio Univer­sity-ed­u­cated Ronny Yu to make the se­quel, the Legacy of Rage’s di­rec­tor is be­lieved to have re­fused, wor­ry­ing that it would be too hard to match the suc­cess of the first film.

But Yuen seems up to the chal­lenge and has im­pres­sive cre­den­tials and back­ers.

“Yuen’s beau­ti­ful ac­tion scenes have in­flu­enced a lot of our film­mak­ers … and some top Hol­ly­wood di­rec­tors are his huge fans…” Tom Prince, the ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent of phys­i­cal pro­duc­tion with­We­in­stein, tells China Daily.

“For any Amer­i­can film­maker who wants to dis­play mar­tial arts

it chore­og­ra­phy in their ac­tion ti­tles, the first per­son who comes to mind is usu­ally Yuen,” he says, adding that one of the com­pany’s co-founders, Har­vey Weinstein, is a big fan of Asian cin­ema.

Yuen is among the ear­li­est Hong Kong film­mak­ers to garner pop­u­lar­ity in the West, and Hol­ly­wood’s Quentin Tarantino and the Wa­chowskis are said to be among his fans.

He was re­cruited as an ac­tion di­rec­tor for the block­buster fran­chises Kill Bill and TheMa­trix.

The styl­ized fights de­signed

by Yuen have won him the unof­fi­cial ti­tle of “No 1 ac­tion chore­og­ra­pher” of Chi­nese-lan­guage films in showbiz cir­cles. He was also in charge of the ac­tion chore­og­ra­phy of Lee’s block­buster.

Yuen, 70, tells China Daily that the se­quel aims to ex­plore a new way to make Chi­nese wuxia films, with a mix of Western and ori­en­tal fla­vors.

“I par­tic­i­pated in Lee’s Crouch­ing from the be­gin­ning to the end. It’s a master’s work, but I ac­cept the (new) chal­lenge,” he says.

“We’ve in­jected some­thing newin the emo­tional scenes and have in­vented some­thing fresh for the fights.” There are also changes to the cast. De­spite Chi­nese-Malaysian ac­tress Michelle Yeoh repris­ing her role as the swordswoman Yu Xi­u­lian, other char­ac­ters have changes, such as the Amer­i­canChi­nese kung fu star Don­nie Yen.

The se­quel, adapted from one of Chi­nese wuxia writer Wang Dulu’s Crane-Iron Pen­ta­l­ogy, cen­ters on the thrilling ad­ven­tures in­volv­ing an an­cient sword called The Green Des­tiny (the main fo­cus of the first in­stall­ment).

An evil swords­man ex­iled by a famed mar­tial arts group from the Wu­dan­gMoun­tain area plots to rob the pre­cious weapon.

The roles played by Yeoh and Yen (the pro­tag­o­nist Yu’s fiance in the movie) risk their lives to stop the evil swords­man.

In­ter­est­ingly, “des­tiny” seems to hang over the film­mak­ing process.

Bey Lo­gan, the movie’s pro­ducer, says that the crewen­coun­tered Lee dur­ing their time at New Zealand

AlongsideWe­in­stein, the big-bud­get se­quel’s pro­duc­ers in­clude China Film Group, Bei­jing-based Pe­ga­sus Media and Net­flix, which aims to use its global plat­form to tar­get the se­quel at its 60 mil­lion reg­is­tered users.

So, will the se­quel touch a chord with main­land view­ers?

Sun Jian­jun, pres­i­dent ofPe­ga­sus, says that the script was re­vised around 10 times over nearly seven years.

A Chi­nese scriptwriter as­sisted Fusco in mak­ing the tale more “nat­u­ral” to the Chi­nese.

Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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