Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny debuted on Netflix and in a limited number of theatres on Friday, and it was… OK. Look, if you’re going to give me a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 15 years after the fact, I’d prefer that it be a solid two hours of Michelle Yeoh kicking people in the face, but it if can’t be that (why can’t it be that?), director Yuen Woo-Ping’s take on the material is acceptable. It’s not anywhere near as good as the original, but it was never going to be. Donnie Yen beasts people up. It’s cool. Quality-wise, it’s a Netflixer, so it’s pretty convenient that it was put out by Netflix.
In lieu of a traditional review, here is a ranking of the bulk of the film’s major characters, from least to most badass.
8) Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee), the movie’s main baddie, is a generic evil warlord who wants to find the mythic MacGuffin Sword so he can rule over all of China, because—legend has it—whoever wields the sword is invincible. There was never, at any point, the smallest chance that Donnie Yen wasn’t going to beat the shit out of this asshole. He gets 15.7 cool points, and 15 of those are because his name is “Hades Dai.” I was going to name my firstborn that, and now I can’t, because this character is dumb. What a waste.
7) I know it’s hard to tell in the above image, but that’s my boy Chicken Man, and his weapon is of choice is a pair of sticks with metal bird claws on them. They’re actually iron crow’s feet, which makes sense because his real name is Iron Crow. I’m going to call him Chicken Man instead, because he’s a failure punk who shows up for one battle and [SPOILER] accidentally gets offed by one of his own weapons, so the less-cool name is more fitting.
6) Angry Teenager (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), real name Snow Vase, is Michelle Yeoh’s new student and this movie’s substitute for Zhang Ziyi. She runs around shouting about vengeance a lot, but she never actually wins any fights. She’s like if Negasonic Teenage Warlord were more emotionally demonstrative but less effective at just about everything.
5) Glee (Harry Shum Jr.) and Angry Teenager make up one half of Sword of Destiny’s requisite romance subplot: They’re on opposite sides at first but ultimately come to care for one another! He has a secret past! Oh, swoon! He’s at about the same badassness level (read: not high) as Angry Teen, but he has the gumption (or outright stupidity) to square up against Donnie Yen at one point, and that counts for something.
4) Capes make everyone cooler. Dagger Woman (Juju Chan) is no exception.
3) Hades Dai is outpaced in the cool rankings by his #1 minion, whose brother tried being good and was killed because of it, so she’ll stab people all day instead kthx. I referred to her in my head as Hot Topic until I found out her actual name is Mantis (fuckin’ Mantis!), which is much cooler. Actually, for all Sword of Destiny is only a so-so movie, there are more women in major roles than you’ll find in your typical action outing. (There’s also the Blind Enchantress and Angry Teenager’s first teacher, shown in flashback. There are also a lot of men who I haven’t included in this list because LOL who cares?)
2) Guys, I’m worried about Donnie Yen in Star Wars. Is Rogue One’s script going to give him ample opportunity to kick people in the face? Because there’s not a ton of martial arts shenanigans in the Star Wars universe aside from swordfighting, and obviously—given the fact that Rogue One takes place right before A New Hope—the chances of Yen playing a lightsaber wielding character are practically nil. And then Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian from The Raid were in The Force Awakens but didn’t kick anybody in the face at all. I just don’t know if I’m ready for a Donnie Yen role where he looks all calm and your-nice-uncle right up to the point where he’s beating people’s faces in. Mute your computer (because dubbing) and watch this video for a prime example of what Donnie Yen was put on God’s green earth to do:
1) The only person in this movie who could possibly be more badass than Shut the Fuck Up, Donnie: Motherfuckin’ Michelle Yeoh. As if there were any doubt. Within five minutes, she’s beating up like 15 dudes who try to ambush her without breaking a sweat. Any movie where Michelle Yeoh kicks some punk’s mask off is one I want to see. All hail the goddess: