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'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny' trailer: Will the movie attain the cultural dominance of the original?

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A trailer has been released for the upcoming film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.”

The sequel to the hit 2000 foreign-language film is being released this February on Netflix and features the return of “Crouching” star Michelle Yeoh. She will be joined by Harry Shum Jr., Donnie Yen, Eugenia Yuan, and Jason Scott Lee. 

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The film is the newest prestige project for Netflix, which is already the home of acclaimed original television such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” and has already released this year a possible Oscar contender, the movie “Beasts of No Nation.” 

Netflix is also set to release a movie with Brad Pitt, “War Machine,” as well as a movie starring Adam Sandler, “The Ridiculous 6,” among others.

How popular will “Sword” become? The first “Crouching” movie, which was released in 2000, became a phenomenon in America, attaining a level of popularity that is rare for a foreign language film. 

“Crouching” was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, not just in the best foreign language film category, a rarity for these kinds of films. (The 2012 French movie “Amour” was nominated for Best Picture but that was in a time when the field was open to more than five films, which was not the case when “Crouching” made the cut.) 

“Crouching” also became a hit at the box office. Not only is it the highest-grossing foreign-language film of all time in America, it grossed more than twice that of the next-highest contender, 1998’s "Life Is Beautiful" 

How did the first “Crouching” movie become that successful? Superlative reviews no doubt got audiences’ attention, with critics praising the movie’s cast, the fighting choreography, and the cinematography, among other aspects.

In addition, the promise of action scenes no doubt lured moviegoers who would otherwise have been uninterested in a foreign-language film. 

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This success could likely be replicated by another foreign-language movie, as long as it involved a story that appealed to so many demographics as “Crouching” did. 

In our present day, Hollywood is looking to China and other large foreign markets to make their films as big a hit as possible. For example, when the 1980s film “Red Dawn” was remade, the scriptwriters initially planned to make the villains Chinese, but digitally switched their nationalities to North Korean in postproduction so as not to potentially affect the film’s performance in China.

Meanwhile, the question of whether the second “Crouching” movie will be a hit is a murkier one because it’s so hard to measure the success of Netflix properties. While Hollywood often measures a movie by its opening weekend gross, it will be harder to call the second “Crouching” movie a success or failure because Netflix will most likely not release viewership numbers for the movie. (It rarely provides numbers for who watches their TV programs.)

“Sword of Destiny” will be playing in some IMAX theaters but those numbers will presumably not give a full picture of who is watching the film. 


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