Monday, December 7, 2015

TRAILER: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: Sword Of Destiny or The Green Legend & a New Way To Watch New Releases

This is actually worth our time.
Not just because of the incredible trailer that has been released--especially for those who thoroughly enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon--but also because of the way the film industry is going to release the movie.
It's no coincidence nor accident that you saw the famed Netflix logo; they produced the film and plan on premiering it on Netflix February 26,... the same day it will also premiere in IMAX theaters. Well, select IMAX theaters,... "select" as in, the owners select whether or not they want to engage in this trial and error test market to see how people prefer to watch movies. This could be the beginning of the change in how films are distributed, released and watched (not to mention, publicized). The day after the announcement that it would be on Netflix and IMAX simultaneously, Regal Entertainment Group said they would not show the film, basically saying they were not going to release a film in IMAX that you could either choose to watch on a three-stores screen, or your cell phone screen,... other theaters have followed suit (it appears my local theater doesn't plan on showing it, either). I have to say, if Gone With the Wind was going to play at the theater, I would certainly go see it (regardless of how many times I have seen it on TV); and given the choice to see this new film on my computer screen or IMAX, I would definitely choose IMAX (for this film at least) and, when the Victorian Christmas Special of Sherlock comes out on TV, I will watch it on TV and then, a few days later, if it plays at my theater, I will go see it at the theater as well.
So there, Regal, try and figure that out.
Yea, so there are some problems with the title: it was originally labeled, The Green Legend, but then they have changed it to Sword Of Destiny, so you are apt to see both titles, but it's the same film. If you stop the trailer at 0:39, and look at the body language of this man and woman, you have to admit it's rather odd. We don't know much about the scene, but she is supposedly laying out some pretty heavy "end of the world" type stuff and they aren't even looking at each other; why not? Silent Wolf (Donnie Yen whom you may remember from that amazing fight with Jet Li in Hero that took place in the chess house) sits behind Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeow), which suggests that he is in her past, someone who is, literally and figuratively, behind her. She looks forward because she's looking ahead to the future and what the power of the Sword falling into the wrong hands means, so she is, also, figuratively and literally "stuck in the middle" between her past and her future. In the image above, which is used for the main poster, she wears the Sword on her back, a sign that it is a "burden" for her, she has to carry it, the way a superhero like Thor or Superman wears a red cape, symbolizing that their love for humanity is the burden they carry that makes them strong. Likewise, the Green Sword is a burden but because Yu Shu Lien can turn away from it (the life she has left for so many years because of the bloodshed) she is also worthy to yield it; yes, it is rather like the One Ring in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Now, the question is, what is the general vehicle of the film? It's incredible power getting into the wrong hands,... again. You might remember in the first film, it was Jen Yu (played by Zizi Chang who is not returning because Ang Lee is not directing, according to her agent); now, it's a big bully who is getting the sword. This brings up the (easy) question, "Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?" Only those who are corruptible themselves seem to answer yes, it is; those with more discipline, like Yu Shu Lien and Silent Wolf, realize that such power is a means of exerting personal control, because when you can control yourself, you can control anything; likewise, if you can't control yourself, you can't control anything, nothing at all. 
Let's talk about two details in the film: flying swordsmen and the music. First of all, when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon first came out, I was at a total loss of understanding why they were all flying around, until my brother schooled me that people fly in martial arts films; in the commentary, director Ang Lee pointed out that when a warrior gets to a certain degree of excellence, attains a state of wisdom, they have become "enLIGHTened," and being enlightened, they can "fly." It's not "flying" in the technical sense, it's really not being weighed down by earthly concerns, but elevated about the matters which are above earthly concerns. An important Eastern characteristic of this narrative device is that there is no distinguishing between good and evil: you can be evil and still be enlightened, which is counter-intuitive to Western audiences. In this way, "enlightenment" is more like the Force in Star Wars, that both Luke Skywalker (the good guy) and Darth Vader (the bad guy) can mine the Force for power regardless of what they are using it for or not using it for. Now, what about the music?
A new version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's apocalyptic song Bad Moon Rising plays in the background of the trailer, but it's been majorly updated; we've seen that technique in at least two other trailers lately: The Avengers: Age Of Ultron with the high-pitched singing of There Are no Strings On Me, and in The Last Witch Hunter and Paint It Black. Why employ this technique? If they want people to hear Bad Moon Rising, why not just play the song without the edgy, grungy effects? There are at least two reasons.
First, the "time travel" device mechanism works great in music: everyone loves hearing an oldie but a goodie; however, when we place an old song (like the entire soundtrack for Guardians Of the Galaxy) in a modern setting, that's taking the now back into the past; adding elements from contemporary music to the old song brings the past into the now. In other words (I use that phrase a lot, don't I?) we can understand something about now, the film makers are telling us, if we look back to the time the song was popular, and we can understand something about the past, if we apply where we have come and landed now in this particular phase of history. The second reason these songs are important is because of how they have changed in the "new editions" that have been released: they are all darker; more apocalyptic and fearful, but at the same time kind of resigned and calloused to fate.
Is that how we are?
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner