Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the landmark martial arts film is being adapted into a streaming series.

By Jonathan Klotz
| Published 5 days ago

The highest-grossing foreign language film of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon exploded onto American pop culture way back in the year 2000, mesmerizing audiences with its ground-breaking fight sequences. Deadline reports that soon we’ll have more of the long dormant, in America, wuxia franchise, now that Sony Pictures Television has signed Jason Ning to develop a streaming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon series. Another show Ning is working on, also under the Sony umbrella, is Silk: Spider Society, which is for MGM+ and Amazon Prime, making those streamers the likely home for the new martial arts series.

Nothing is known yet regarding casting for the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon series, while the movie starred some familiar faces, even to Western audiences, with Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once) and Chow-Yun fat (Dragonball Evolution) as the two leads. The story of the film involves the theft of the Green Destiny, a 400-year old sword, from Sir Te, and quickly spirals out from their to involve long-simmering personal vendettas, the traditional role of women in Chinese society, unrequited love, and amazing wire work fight scenes. The film combined multiple books from the Crane Iron series by Wang Dulu in its adaptation, but the series promises to be more focused.

The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon series will adapt all five of the books from the Crane Iron franchise, which follows four generations of Chinese warrior folk heroes, called youxia. The five novels, of which Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the fourth, were published between 1938 and 1944, a time period in which reminding the public of the strength of Chinese folk heroes served the national interest. The length of the deal is unknown, and sadly these days, just because a show is promised multiple seasons does not mean the studio will follow through, especially streaming services.

Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

To date, the only other television adaptation was New Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a 38 episode Taiwanese series brought over to the United States in 2004. While critically acclaimed, the film was nominated for nearly every award it qualified for by all major bodies of critics, it still lost out during its opening weekend to Save the Last Dance. Overall, the landmark martial arts film earned $128 million in the United States, and a total of $213 million worldwide.

Culturally, the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has resulted in television shows and movies copying the hit films visual style, fight chorography, and Chinese aesthetic. In the following years, more wuxia films were released in the West, including Jet Li’s Hero, House of Flying Daggers and laid the groundwork for the later success of Memoirs of a Geisha as well. Interest in martial arts waxes on and off in the United States, and lately it has been off, though with Shang-Chi and Everything Everywhere All At Once, both also starring Michelle Yeoh, we may be in another upswing.

If Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is to succeed as a streaming series, it should embrace the unique visual style of Chinese martial arts films, combined with the best of their dramas. Squid Games, and countless anime blockbusters, have shown that creative teams do not have to adjust their vision for a Western audience. Quality shows, good storytelling, and fantastic fight scenes will transcend all languages and cultures, after all, we all just want to be entertained.