On Twitter yesterday, someone joked of the news that J.J. Abrams will be directing Star Wars Episode VII that Hollywood had clearly chosen to drop bad entertainment news when I got back from the Television Critics Association press tour and the Sundance Film Festival for the express purpose of making my head explode. My initial reaction to the news that the Weinstein Company is planning a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was that it was further proof this was true. After all, Ang Lee’s wuxia epic has one of the great ambiguous endings of all time, leaving it unclear whether Ziyi Zhang’s Jen Yu had committed suicide or achieved transcendence when she jumped at the end of the film.
But the summary of the second film, and in particular, the news of its focus, actually sounds promising:
The sequel continues to revolve around Yu Shu Lien, the character played in the original by Michelle Yeoh. It’s not immediately clear yet which actors will reprise, but some likely will. “This introduces a new generation of star-crossed lovers, and a new series of antagonists in a battle of good and evil. It has a Knights Errant quality. There is an alternate universe in the books, a martial forest that exists alongside the real world, full of wandering sword fighters, medicine men, defrocked priests, poets, sorcerers and Shaolin renegades. It’s so vast and rich, and I found characters from the second and third books in the series to create a most interesting stew while being as true to the source material as I could be.”
Yu Shu Lien is a fantastic character, an independent operator who is as interested in the fate and moral orientation of Jen, who emerges as a potential protege for her, as she is in reconnecting with her long-lost love, Master Li Mu Bai. Her failure to connect with and direct Jen ends up putting her priorities into deadly conflict. I’m excited to see her off on her own again. Particularly if Yuen Woo-ping comes back to choreograph her fight scenes.