China Box Office: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2" Opens to Solid (Maybe Even Great) $21M

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny,” the sequel to Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning 2000 film, opened in China over the weekend and pulled in $21.3M. Compared to the recording-breaking numbers that Stephen Chow’s “The Mermaid” has amassed in the last couple of weeks -- $42M on opening day and $420M since -- this doesn’t sound like much.

But “Sword of Destiny’s” relatively modest weekend opening is actually a solid, maybe even great figure.

Although “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was a huge hit in the U.S. back in 2000 with $128M, it tanked in Hong Kong and China. The Ang Lee film barely broke $2M in Hong Kong (even after a post-Oscars re-release) and managed only $1.5M in China, despite starring Chow Yun Fat, one of the biggest draws in those markets. So it’s not exactly a highly anticipated sequel with a massive fanbase there.

Looking at it from that point of view, $21.3M is not just solid, but pretty great.

Michelle Yeoh and fight choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping are the only notable talents returning to the sequel. Yuen takes over the director’s chair from Lee.

Bankable martial arts star Donnie Yen is added to the cast, taking over the romantic lead role from Chow. Because the role for Chow, who’s not a martial artist, in the original film was written for Jet Li, this is a great addition.

“Sword of Destiny’s” opening is Yen’s second best, behind “The Monkey King’s” $50M.

The martial arts epic will have a few more weeks to pull in the action crowd until yet another Yen sequel opens: “Ip Man 3.” Now that franchise actually has a huge fanbase in China, and I’m curious to see how huge that film will open.

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