Netflix is expanding their empire yet again: Their first original movie has been announced, and it'll be a sequal to the 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Dedicated fans will know that CTHD was also made into a 12-volume comic arc, written and published by Andy Seto [available to purchase here].
While the comics and the first film don't have any stated LGBTQ characters, the story, built on the idea that privileged aristocratic lady Jen Yu (played by the beautiful Zhang Ziyi) was not happy with her station and defied gender roles to create a different life for herself. Trite? Not quite.
Tze-Lan D. Sang postits in Embodied Modernities: Corporeality, Representation and Chinese Cultures that Jen Yu can actually be categorized as transgender character. She argues that Jen Yu is living between two identities, crossing boundaries and is an example of gender dismorphism disruption. Her explanation of Jen Yu as a trans* person gives CTHD another layer of complexity: we not only see examples of strong, enterprising women (especially in business owner/intense fighter Yu Shu Lien), but we possibly have a non-cisgender main character.
CTHD didn't strike me as LGBTQ-related when I first watched it, but it has some interesting connections:
- Ang Lee was the director, and 5 years later he would go on to direct Brokeback Mountain.
- Yu Shu Lien is a good example of a strong, able woman in a patriarchal society where a woman's place is to enjoy art and music, not make business decisions.
- Jen Yu could be interpreted through a queer lense.
- Gender roles are shunned.
Now that a sequel is coming out 15 years later, I'm interested to see if there will be some LGBTQ inclusion. Sometimes it's nice to see outward representations of gay characters rather than having to rely on metaphors and parallels. From the cast list we can see that Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh are going to be heading the movie this time around, but Zhang Ziyi ins't coming aboard. With her out there won't be any further development on her character, unless we see it in another - as yet unannounced - CTHD comic arc.
In the original CTHD, there were two heterosexual love stories through the film. With Yun-Fat Chow out this time around as well, that leaves Yu Shu Lien open for another love interest. While I'm perfectly fine with films that don't have a love story component, there are few and far between when it comes to Hollywood-produced films and I'll be somewhat surprised if they don't develop a love interest for her. Eugenia Yuan and Juju Chan are appearing on the cast list, so it's within the realm of possiblity that her next love interest could be a woman. More than likely it will be Donnie Yen (playing Meng Sizhao) or Jason Scott Lee (character as yet unannounced).
Whether we get any LGBTQ attention out of Green Destiny remains to be seen, but if it's anything like the first film there will be (at the very least) a lot of metaphor to draw off of. And now to wait... only 332 long days.
A photo featuring Michelle Yeoh from a scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Destiny: