Academy apologizes for Asian jokes at the Oscars

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Yahoo/Variety:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences apologized on Tuesday for the Asian jokes on the Feb. 28 Oscar telecast, after receiving a protest letter signed by 25 AMPAS members, including Ang Lee.

An Academy spokesperson issued the statement, “The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.”

ORIGINAL POST: Two dozen members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, including Ang Lee and several other Oscar winners, have asked the AMPAS board for “concrete steps” to ensure that future Oscarcasts will avoid the “tone-deaf approach” to Asians that was exhibited in the Feb. 28 ceremony.

The protest was delivered in advance of Tuesday’s board meeting, where diversity promises to be a key item on the agenda. The missive was sent to the board, AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, and ceremony producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill.

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The letter said, “We are writing as Academy members of Asian descent to express our complete surprise and disappointment with the targeting of Asians at the 88th Oscars telecast and its perpetuation of racist stereotypes. In light of criticism over #OscarsSoWhite, we were hopeful that the telecast would provide the Academy a way forward and the chance to present a spectacular example of inclusion and diversity. Instead, the Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its portrayal of Asians.

“We’d like to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts. We look forward to hearing from you about this matter and about the concrete steps to ensure that all people are portrayed with dignity and respect.

“We are proud that the Oscars reach several hundred million people around the world of whom 60% are Asians and potential moviegoers.”

In addition to Lee, other Oscar winners on the list include Chris Tashima (shorts and feature animation) and four members of the documentary branch: Ruby Yang, Steven Okazaki, Jessica Yu, and Freida Lee Mock. Aside from Mock, two other former governors signed, Don Hall (sound branch) and Arthur Dong (documentaries). Another three signers were Oscar nominees: Christine Choy, Renee Tajima-Pena, and Rithy Panh, again all docu-branch members.

Other signers were Yung Chang, documentary; Maysie Hoy and William Hoy, editors; Marcus Hu and Teddy Zee, executives; Janet Yang, producers; David Magdael and Laura Kim, PR; and six members of the actors branch: Nancy Kwan, Peter Kwong, Jodi Long, France Nuyen, Sandra Oh, and George Takei.

According to the International Energy Agency, Asians represent 4.3 billion, or 60% of the population. However, they are estimated to represent less than 1% of the Academy.

Sources close to the show told Variety that Chris Rock made decisions about his material (including a series of jokes about Asian children), while Sacha Baron Cohen’s crack was apparently ad-libbed. However, at a time of heightened sensitivity with racial matters, many viewers were shocked that old Asian stereotypes were trotted out for a laugh.

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The first trailer for Netflix’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny”

The first trailer for Netflix‘s followup to the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is here, giving us our first real glimpse at how the streaming company plans to take on the Wuxia classic.

Here, Michelle Yeoh has reprised her role as Yu Shu Lien, who must now strive to protect the legendary Green Destiny sword, which once belonged to legendary swordsman Li Mu Bai, from an evil warlord. She’s joined by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story star Donnie Yen and former Glee star Harry Shum, Jr.

Judging from the plentiful use of old-school wire work and VFX, the film should hopefully appeal to both old and new martial arts movie fans alike. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny hits select IMAX theaters and Netflix on February 26th.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” – Trailer

Netflix has dropped the first trailer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny, the upcoming sequel to Ang Lee‘s 2000 martial arts epic. Michelle Yeoh reprises her role as Yu Shu-Lien, now tasked with protecting the legendary Green Destiny sword against an evil warlord.

Directed by legendary martial arts choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, and written by John Fusco, the film is based on the wuxia novel Iron Knight, Silver Vase (Book 5 in Wang Dulu‘s Crane-Iron Pentalogy).

Sword of Destiny also stars Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Harry Shum Jr., Roger Yuan and Eugenia Yuan.

Catch Joan Chen in the Netflix series ‘Marco Polo’

 Audrey Magazine:

Netflix’s elaborate original series Marco Polo was met with some criticism from the Asian American community for being an outsider’s fetishization of the East. But actress Joan Chen urges skeptics to look at it differently. “It’s such a great opportunity for so many Asian actors,” she says.

Other than the lead, Lorenzo Richelmy as Marco Polo, almost the entire cast is Asian or Asian American, with Benedict Wong as Kublai Khan, Rick Yune as the leader of the Golden Horde, Zhu Zhu as the Blue Princess, Chin Han as the villainous chancellor, Olivia Cheng as a suffering concubine with some tricks up her sleeve, and Claudia Kim (who was just named the first Asian face of cosmetics brand Bobbi Brown and can be seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron this May) as the warrior Khutulun.

I see how excited these kids are to work on this grand production,” says Chen. “They have dialect coaches and personal trainers, and this series gives them a year to work on their craft and express their talents. I think of it as completely positive.”

Chen has been acting since she was teenager in China, where she became a household name and was dubbed the “Elizabeth Taylor of China” for her role in 1979’s Little Flower. She was “discovered” twice. Legend has it that Madame Mao discovered her at a school rifle range, impressed by her skilled marksmanship. She was soon chosen for the Actors’ Training Program by the Shanghai Film Studio. At 20, she decided to move to the United States to study filmmaking. Though she had no connections in Hollywood, she was discovered again by legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis, who honked at her in a parking lot. His line was: “Did you know that Lana Turner was discovered in a drug store?

I was like, ‘Who’s this dirty old man?’” she remembers. “I didn’t talk. I just kept walking.”

He managed to convince her to take his card, and her managers couldn’t believe she had met the Dino De Laurentiis. She soon landed her first Hollywood role in 1986’s Tai-Pan. In the last three decades, she’s been juggling films in both China and the U.S., from the Oscar-winning Bernardo Bertolucci film The Last Emperor to the American cult TV series Twin Peaks, to big Asian productions like Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution and smaller Asian American indies like Saving Face. She’s also a writer and director in her own right, directing the feature films Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl and Autumn in New York.

In Marco Polo, Chen plays Empress Chabi, Kublai Khan’s first and favorite wife. Though the creators researched the history for their fantastical story, there wasn’t much historical information on Empress Chabi to go on. So they worked with Chen to develop a more complex character who drives the plot and would be more fulfilling for the veteran actress to play.

The grand production, overseen by The Weinstein Company and reported to be one of the most expensive TV shows ever made, was shot mostly in Malaysia. “The costumes are made of real silk and ornaments,” adds Chen. “They’re so heavy that you know they didn’t spare a cent to make every detail luxurious.”

She also loved going to work and seeing all the stunt tents, where actors and martial arts performers trained every day. Though Empress Chabi doesn’t have a lot of action, Chen was able to learn some archery for some of her scenes. This brought her back to her days at her high school rifle range.

Even though they’re two different sports, there are some principles that are the same,” says Chen. “The way you aim, the breathing techniques, the way you use your cheek and how you use your body. I took it up pretty fast. But obviously, I could take a lifetime to learn it.”

Though she knows that the show is romanticized and operatic, she hopes viewers of Marco Polo enjoy it for that very reason. “It’s a visual feast,” she says. “In the beginning, you have to set up all these characters and the historical background, but by episode 10, it’s really powerful. It’s cooking. It’s hot.”

All episodes of Marco Polo are currently available on Netflix, and the series has been renewed for a second season

This story was originally published in Audrey Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here.

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“Crouching Tiger” sequel to premiere exclusively on Netflix

Angry Asian Man: 

Between original content like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has been making some big moves, and its latest distribution deal could be a gamechanger. The pay service has struck a deal with The Weinstein Company to release its first major feature film: the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

According to Deadline, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Destiny, described as “sort of a sequel” to Ang Lee‘s critically-acclaimed 2000 martial arts epic, will premiere exclusively on Netflix’s subscriber-based video streaming service. The film will also simultaneously open IMAX theaters on August 28, 2015.

The Green Destiny, directed by Yuen Wo-Ping, stars Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen, is based on the fifth book in the Crane-Iron Petalogy by Wang Du Lu. (Crouching Tiger was based on the fourth book in the series.)

Yeoh is reprising her role as Yu Shu-Lien. Ang Lee has no involvement in the project.

Yuen Wo-Ping is directing a script by John Fusco, and Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen star. Lee is not involved in this, and the connective tissue is the source material based on the Crane-Iron Pentalogy by Wang Du Lu. Crouching Tiger was the fourth book in the series, and this film is based on the fifth installment, Silver Vase, Iron Knight. Both are from Wu Sia, the centuries-old genre of Chinese fiction that this series is part of. There is plenty of high-wire sword fighting along with the themes of lost love, young love and redemption. Yeoh reprises her role as Yu Shu-Lien, and Donnie Yen plays Silent Wolf. The film is shooting in New Zealand. Yuen is a legendary filmmaker and fight choreographer, and the production team is composed of all seasoned feature players. Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey are producing with Weinstein and The Imitation Game helmer Morten Tyldum is exec producing with Ralph Winter, Anthony Wong and Bey Logan.

Harry Shum Jr. join “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel

Angry Asian Man: 
Harry Shum Jr., whose moves (and abs) you know and love from Glee, has been cast as one of the leads in the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which started production this week.Yes, there is Crouching Tiger sequel in the works. Directed by master action choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, the movie is set twenty years after the events of Ang Lee‘s award-winning martial arts drama. The sequel’s cast includes Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh, reprising her role Yu Shu-lien.

 

 

Harry will play Tie-Fang, a kung fu hero who must fight to keep a legendary sword out of the wrong hands:

Written by John Fusco (The Forbidden Kingdom), the movie is set 20 years after the events of Crouching Tiger and revolves around four heroes of the martial arts world — Silent Wolf, Yu Shu-lien, Tie-Fang and Snow Vase — who must use their courage and skills to keep the legendary sword Green Destiny from the hands of the villainous Hades Dai.

Donnie Yen already is cast as Silent Wolf, and Michelle Yeoh is on board as Yu Shu-lien.

Shum will play Tie-Fang.

The sequel, reportedly titled Crouching Tiger 2: The Green Destiny, is being produced by The Weinstein Company and will shoot in New Zealand and China. Am I the only one who is concerned that script is written by the guy whose credits include that craptastic Jet Li/Jackie Chan movie The Forbidden Kingdom?

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BBC: Michelle Yeoh coming back for prequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

 

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BBC: 

Titled The Green Destiny, the movie will see Michelle Yeoh reprise her role as female warrior Yu Shu Lien.

Pre-production is believed to have begun. Filming is due to start in Auckland, New Zealand, with two further weeks of shooting in China.

Yuen Woo-ping, who co-ordinated the action scenes in the original, will step behind the camera for the prequel.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon remains the most successful Chinese-language film of all time, making $213.5m (£127m) on its release in 2000.

It won the best foreign-language Oscar the following year, with three more awards in the technical categories.

Ang Lee accepts his Oscar in 2001Ang Lee won the first of three Oscars for the original

Part of the reason for the film’s success was that it operated on many different levels. It was a love story, a martial arts fantasy with a feminist twist and an historical epic set against a backdrop of spectacular locations in China.

Director Ang Lee also employed sophisticated technology that enabled the characters to perform gravity-defying stunts, drawing in fans of the previous year’s box office hit, The Matrix.

But plans for a prequel were delayed by a row over the film rights to Wang Du Lu‘s novels, on which the film was based.

Columbia Pictures claimed it had struck a deal with the late writer’s son in 2005. He denied this, and said he had signed an agreement with The Weinstein Company, another US studio.

With the case resolved, The Weinstein Company is pushing ahead with the prequel, choosing New Zealand as a location thanks to a generous production incentive that offers filmmakers a 20% rebate on money spent in the country.

The Green Destiny draws on the fifth book in Wang’s series, Silver Vase, Iron Night.

This introduces a new generation of star-crossed lovers, and a new series of antagonists in a battle of good and evil,” screenwriter John Fusco told movie website Deadline last year.

Although Fusco is known for US blockbusters such as Young Guns I and II, he also penned The Forbidden Kingdom for Jet Li and Jackie Chan in 2008.

The film, which drew on the writer’s own martial arts training, broke opening day box office records in China.

Check out this link:

Michelle Yeoh coming back for prequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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Top Asian American achievements of 2013

 

Each year, certain people are recognized for their accomplishments in the Asian American communities. There were many incredible feats this year, so we grouped them into 10 accomplishments.

1. President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye in August. Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.

2. U.S. Senate Confirmations: It was a big year for U.S. Senate confirmations. Pamela K. Chen became the first openly gay, Asian American person to preside on a federal bench when she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Raymond T. Chen became the first Asian American to serve on the Federal Circuit in more than 25 years with his U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirmation.

Srikanth Srinivasan was confirmed as the first circuit court judge of South Asian descent to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

3. Obama appointments: President Obama appointed Twitter’s legal director Nicole Wong to be the White House’s new deputy U.S. chief privacy officer.

In addition, President Obama nominated Vivek Murthy to serve as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States. If confirmed, Murthy would be the youngest surgeon general in U.S history.

4. Nina Davuluri made history by becoming the first Indian American woman to be crowned Miss America 2014. She was also the first woman to perform a Bollywood dance on the Miss America stage.

5. Wei Chen, 22, organizer of Asian Americans United in Philadelphia, won the Peace First Prize. He is one of 10 young people to receive the inaugural award, which includes a $50,000 fellowship that honors young people who are engaged in peace-making projects and positive change in their communities.

6. After 23 years of service, Gil Dong was officially named chief of the Berkeley Fire Department, and became the first Asian American fire chief in the continental United States.

7. Taiwanese American Ang Lee won the Academy Award for Best Director for his work on “Life of Pi.”

8. Young achievements: Nine-year-old Carissa Yip became the youngest U.S. chess expert. She reached the expert level at a younger age than anyone since the U.S. Chess Federation began electronic recordkeeping in 1991.

Eesha Khare, a Harvard-bound high school graduate from Saratoga, Calif., took the top prize at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her groundbreaking experiment, “Design and Synthesis of Hydrogenated TiO2-Polyaniline Nanorods for Flexible High-Performance Supercapacitors.”

In simpler terms, she invented a device that can charge a cell phone in 30 seconds. In addition, 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

9. Francis Su, a math professor at Harvey Mudd College in California, was the first Asian American elected president of the Mathematical Association of America.

Check out this link:

Top Asian American achievements of 2013

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A-pop! Top 10 stories of 2013 : The best, and the best of the worst, of last year’s Asian pop media moments

With 2014 underway, it’s the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on 2013’s biggest hits and misses in pop culture. It’s been an interesting year, which saw Asian Americans breaking ground in new ways in pop media, as well as some spectacularly offensive moments from celebrities and teenagers alike. Let’s look back!

10. Kristen Kish of “Top Chef”

If you’re a reality show fanatic, then you may remember that chef Kristen Kish won this year’s season of the competitive cooking reality show “Top Chef.” Kish, who is a Korean American adoptee, was the first Asian American female winner on the show. Kish’s prize included $125,000, and she spent a portion of it on a trip to Korea to discover and connect with her homeland for the first time.

Kish’s run on “Top Chef” took place in Seattle, which featured episodes in numerous well-known restaurants in the Emerald City, making her tenure on the show and subsequent win more memorable for local viewers (and this column’s readers).

9. “Life of Pi” at the Academy Awards

Although the 2014 award season is just around the corner, I’d like to return to this past season and call out director Ang Lee’s win during the 85th Academy Awards earlier this year. Lee, who is Taiwanese American, took home an Oscar for Best Director for the adventure drama film “The Life of Pi.” Lee is also known for his directorial efforts on “Brokeback Mountain” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

In addition to Lee’s Oscar award, “The Life of Pi” was nominated for a total of 11 awards, and took home more Academy Awards than any other film nominated for 2013. The film also starred Indian actors Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, and Adil Hussain.

8. Katy Perry goes geisha

During this year’s American Music Awards, mega pop star Katy Perry performed her hit single “Unconditionally” live against a geisha-inspired backdrop, which included Perry and her backup dancers sporting kimonos, oil-paper umbrellas, and pale make-up.

Perry’s use of Oriental imagery was annoying because it continued to perpetuate the stereotype that Asian women make for submissive, docile, and doting lovers. The worst part is that Perry doesn’t seem to understand what is offensive about her use of these images. She saw the performance as an homage to Japanese culture. How typical.

Unfortunately, music award shows are hotbeds for offensive racial images and slurs. I don’t think this is a trend that will go away in 2014, but can we at least hope that some celebrities will have more awareness about these things?

7.  Clichés on “Dads”

Several media outlets and blogs reported on the blatant, racist humor found in the FOX sitcom “Dads.” The freshman sitcom, which features Asian American actresses Brenda Song and Vanessa Lachey as leads, generated controversy when the show’s pilot showcased Song appearing in a skimpy “Sailor Moon” outfit as a joke.

Although the controversy first came to light in September, the show survived its initial negative response, and has since been picked up for a full season. I’ve actually watched a few episodes of “Dads,” and I don’t find it funny or original at all. I’m surprised it has made it as far as it has. Still, 2014 has just begun — it’ll be interesting to see whether this show survives past its first season or not.

6. Hayao Miyazaki’s imminent retirement

Famed Japanese Academy Award-winning director and animator Hayao Miyazaki made waves in 2013 when he announced his imminent plans for retirement. Miyazaki, who has become synonymous with the Japanese anime industry, is revered for his acclaimed animated films, such as “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Spirited Away.”

Miyazaki cited his need to rest among primary reasons for his retirement, as well as a desire to pursue other projects outside of animation. Though his retirement is not yet official, Miyazaki’s latest film “The Wind Rises” will see a limited U.S. release in early 2014, so his work is not disappearing from us quite yet!

5. Roger Ebert’s death

The world bid adieu to famed film critic and journalist Roger Ebert in April 2013, who passed away after an 11-year battle with cancer. Ebert is revered in Asian American cinema circles for his public defense of the indie film “Better Luck Tomorrow” at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. “Better Luck Tomorrow” was director Justin Lin’s debut film, and is considered a cult classic in independent Asian American film. Ebert’s public defense put the movie on the radar of major studios, and also widened the distribution of Asian American films to new audiences.

Ebert was a true supporter and friend to Asian American filmmakers, actors, and audiences alike, as he understood the importance for multifaceted representations of minorities in American media. Roger Ebert, you will be dearly missed.

4. Chinese food goes viral

One of the most popular YouTube videos in 2013 was the inane music video for “Chinese Food,” a pop song performed by unknown teenager Alison Gold. The video observes Gold craving and singing about Chinese food, which is illustrated through fellow teens dressed as geishas, cliché Oriental music, and an adult man in a panda suit. You know, just the usual hallmarks of Chinese cuisine and culture.

Apparently, mimicking geishas was a trendy choice in offensive Oriental imagery this year. I don’t think anybody actually enjoyed this song, but it was one of those ridiculous car wrecks that nobody could avert their eyes from, giving the song its unpredicted popularity. The song even charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and spawned a prequel music video that explains the origins of Gold’s love for Chinese food. Don’t watch it. Seriously.

3. Miss America: Nina Davuluri

America finally saw its first Asian American queen during the 2014 Miss America pageant when Indian American Nina Davuluri took home the title during this year’s competition. But despite the fact that Davuluri was born in America, detractors lambasted the pageant organization for awarding the crown to someone who allegedly wasn’t American, simply based on her race and skin color.

Davuluri brushed the negative commentary aside, however, and refocused the conversation on her then-future plans for her reign. Haters aside, Davuluri’s crowning is monumental because it’s not every day you get to see an Asian woman take home the crown in a mainstream beauty pageant. No matter your stance on beauty pageants, I think we can agree that representation in all facets of mass media is important.

2. Reflecting on the “Fast and the Furious” franchise

This year saw both happy and sad news from the “Fast and the Furious” movie franchise. The sixth installment — titled “Fast & Furious 6” — is the most popular installment to date, and opened this past May amid much fan anticipation. “Fast & Furious 6” was also the third highest-grossing film worldwide in 2013.

Director Justin Lin was one of the franchise’s most prolific directors, having directed four installments of the films, including the recent sixth one. In 2013, Lin announced that he would no longer direct the films due to the demanding and overlapping production schedules of the sixth and seventh films. Director James Wan took over for the seventh film.

More recently, lead actor Paul Walker’s unexpected and tragic death sent the franchise’s future into question.

The seventh installment, which had been on a holiday break at the time of Walker’s death, was delayed for a few weeks to allow filmmakers to rework the script. The seventh film is currently slated for release in spring 2015.

1. High drama in hi-tech: Google gets scandalous

There was a point in 2013 where you couldn’t consume news online without catching a glimpse of the unfolding scandal out of Silicon Valley. In the midst of Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s divorce from former wife Anne Wojcicki, a rumor erupted that the power couple split when Brin began a new relationship with Google Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg. Rosenberg is of Asian descent.

The scandal made such waves that celebrity magazine “People” even made it one of its cover stories, and published a photo of an Asian girl, who was mistakenly identified as Rosenberg. Their gaffe caused uproar in the media, which was made especially ironic given that magazine editors and interns could have, well, Googled and fact checked the photo to verify that it was actually one of Rosenberg.

Still, all the commotion from this high-profile love triangle makes this my top pop culture story for 2013. The tech industry never fails to surprise!

Check out this link:

A-pop! Top 10 stories of 2013 : The best, and the best of the worst, of last year’s Asian pop media moments

Link

Zhang Ziyi in talks to join the cast of Crouching Tiger sequel

Zhang Ziyi in talks to join the cast of Crouching Tiger sequel

Diretor Ang Lee’s multi-Oscar-winning martial arts drama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is based on the fourth of five installments in the “Crane Iron Pentalogy” written by Chinese author Wang Dulu. The finale novel in Dulu’s saga, titled “Iron Knight, Silver Vase,” will partly serve as the basis for the upcoming movie sequel, which has been titled– Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – The Green Destiny.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Zhang Ziyi may appear in the Crouching Tiger sequel through flashback scenes. The sequel’s cast will include Michelle Yeoh, who is reprising her role as the hardened and quietly-suffering warrior Yu Shu Lien.

Check out this link:

Zhang Ziyi in talks to join the cast of Crouching Tiger sequel

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