The one-two punch of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix finally allowed martial arts movies to burst into the American mainstream. For the first time since the heyday of Bruce Lee, proper kung fu – in one form or another – was considered not just an intriguing novelty but a box office draw for casual moviegoers across the country. Now, thirteen years after Ang Lee's Wu Xia epic broke box office records and won four Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film, The Weinstein Company has finally decided that it's time to turn Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon into a franchise. Without Ang Lee.
Deadline is reporting that the sequel, based off the book Silver Vase, Iron Knight – the fifth book in a series by Wang Dang Lu (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the fourth) – will be directed by Ronny Yu. The filmmaker has substantial credibility in China, having directed such critically acclaimed films as The Bride with the White Hair and Fearless, but is best known to most Americans as the filmmaker behind the surprisingly good Freddy vs. Jason and the also-surprisingly good Bride of Chucky. The screenplay will be written by John Fusco, whose more prominent credits include Young Guns, Young Guns II and Hidalgo. Fusco was also behind the script for the underwhelming American Wu Xia film Forbidden Kingdom.
Ang Lee's original film married traditional martial arts choreography and settings with a Westernized romantic sensbility, allowing the film to reach heavy acclaim in the United States. Some Chinese audiences were turned off by the film's cast, which spoke Mandarin in the motion picture but were clearly not native speakers. Regardless, the film was a classy production and one of the most successful foreign films ever released in America. Yu is a strong director, but Fusco hasn't really impressed us in a long time. Will Silver Vase, Iron Knight be able to wow audiences the way the first film did?
We'll find out pretty soon. The film is gearing up for production as early as May of this year. The sequel is said to once again follow the adventures of Yu Shu Lien, originally played by Michelle Yeoh, in an enchanted forest full of colorful characters. Whether or not Yeoh or any of the rest of the original cast will return is unknown.