Today sees the release of the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon exclusively on the streaming site
Today sees the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny exclusively on the streaming site Netflix.
Much like their Oscar-hopeful Beasts Of No Nation late last year, the movie will be getting a limited cinematic release in the States - on some IMAX screens, no less - but will be remaining firmly small-screen on this side of the pond.
However, unlike that last release which was greeted with some generally positive reviews and even some (eventually unfounded) Oscar whispers, the long-delayed sequel is not going down well with critics.
The original movie came out in 2000, went on to make surprising $213 million at the box office, was nominated for ten Oscars and went on to win four of them including Best Foreign Language Picture, and reinvigorated the entire genre, spurning on the popularity of the likes of Hero, House Of Flying Daggers and perhaps even Kill Bill Vol. 1.
The sequel, on the other hand, has been described as "Taking a page from the cynical Hollywood book that hoists sequels no one wants onto moviegoers" (The Hollywood Reporter) and "[The] film recaptures none of the ravishing, operatic grace that helped its predecessor scale cultural and linguistic divide" (Screen Daily), looks to be a major disappointment.
But the real question is, will it even matter?
Netflix's last original release was on December 11th, when The Ridiculous 6 landed on the outlet. It is currently sitting pretty with 0% on Rotten Tomatoes - not one single positive review is to be found - adding to the latest pile of terrible movies to involve Adam Sandler.
But in January, during a yearly keynote speech, Netflix's chief content officer announced: "The Ridiculous 6, by way of example, in the first 30 days on Netflix it’s been the most-watched movie in the history of Netflix. It’s also enjoyed a spot at #1 in every territory we operate in, and in many of them it’s still #1.”
Adam Sandler movies have always been more-or-less critic proof - Grown Ups 2 made just shy of $250 million, and even what many consider to be the nadir of his career to date, Jack & Jill, made a little under $150 million - so the movie's popularity can be somewhat explained away.
However, when Netflix has managed to get original series so right with the likes of House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black and Daredevil, how come their hit rate is one for three with the movies?
Beasts Of No Nation is the only film so far to receive a positive reaction, but even then, the viewership seems unlikely to reach the Netflix norm. When it was released in US cinemas in order to receive potential Oscar consideration, the $6 million production made just over $90,000 at the box office. As overwhelmingly positive as the critical reaction has been, a 137 minute movie about child soldiers in Africa is a tough sell to the majority of home viewers.
Is that why The Ridiculous 6 is just the first in a four-picture deal Adam Sandler signed with Netflix? In an opposite move to their approach to TV shows, are Netflix hedging their bets with popularity over quality?
Maybe, maybe not. Over the course of 2016, Netflix have scheduled up at least eleven more original movies set for release. Next up is Pee Wee's Big Holiday on March 18th, a sequel to the 1985 movie, starring publicly shamed actor Paul Reubens. After that, Ricky Gervais directs an all-star cast in war-comedy Special Correspondents, which is due out on April 29th, and while there is definitely potential present, Gervais has only directed two movies previously, one which nobody seen (Cemetery Junction) and one which nobody liked (The Invention Of Lying).
In the future, there's a Brad Pitt starring satirical comedy War Machine from the acclaimed director of Animal Kingdom, then there's mockumentary Mascots from the creator of This Is Spinal Tap, and Iranian horror movie Under The Shadow which looks to push the genre forward in much the same way It Follows and The Babadook have in recent years.
Netflix have already committed to spending $6 billion on content in 2016 alone, and while their original film line-up has gotten off to a shaky start, there is hope that a simple realignment towards quality will help up the popularity. Or to put it another way - How about less Adam Sandler movies and just make a House Of Cards feature already??