Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crane - Iron Pentalogy
Novles by Wang Du Lu

* A sequel to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is coming out in early 2016
  Principal Filming took place in New Zealand from July 28 to October 17, 2014
  Please visit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: Sword Of Destiny page for updated news and information

About The Author
Film Rights to The Pentalogy and Notes on Prequel/Sequel *updated 07/28/14*
Novel Outline
Notes on English Translations of The Novels and The Comic Books

About the author
     The author of the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" novel is Wang Du Lu (Wang Dulu, 1909 - 1977). With a birth name Wang Bao Xiang, Wang Du Lu was born to a Manchurian family in Beijing in 1909. He was self-taught and led a difficult life. He tried many different jobs for a living, including school teacher, editor for a small newspaper, and clerk for a merchant association. He was not only born poor, but also suffered tragedies during World War II, Chinese Civil War, and the Cultural Revolution.

     Wang Du Lu started to write articles for newspapers as a teenager. He wrote many detective and romance stories and started to write long novels in 30s. He switched to write Wuxia (martial arts) novels after moving to Qingdao (Tsingtao) in 1937. Wang Du Lu stopped writing after 1949 (the year the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seized the power) and started his career as a school teacher. Like many Chinese scholars, Wang was sentenced to farm labour during the communist Cultural Revolution and died from illness in 1977 after the revolution, at the age 68.

     Wang Du Lu wrote totally more than 30 novles, including 16 martial arts novels, in his lifetime. Love and tragedy are the center of them. Among his books the most famous ones are in a sequence of five novels that are collectively called the Crane - Iron Pentalogy, written during 1938 - 1942. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (the film) is based on the Pentalogy's fourth book. The pentalogy describes certain linked stories spanned over three generations, containing love, hatred, separation, reunion, redemption, and revenge that happen to four pairs of male-female protagonists.

Wang Du Lu Wang Du Lu, his wife Li Dan Quan, and their children, in 1949 (click to enlarge) Director Ang Lee and actress Michelle Yeoh with Wang Du Lu's widow, Ms. Li Dan Quan (middle), in 1999 during the shooting of the film in Beijing (click to enlarge)

Film rights to the pentalogy and notes on prequel/Sequel
     (03/06/03) Ang Lee and co-producer Hsu Li-Kong originally bought the film rights to the novels for five years - which was about to expire in 2003. In October 2002, Hsu Li-Kong visited Wang Du Lu's widow, Ms. Li Dan Quan, and daughter Wang Qin in Beijing and extended the film adaptation rights. Wang Du Lu's family members are very supportive of the possible prequel, which has been under development. The first version of the script was written by Taiwanese scriptwriter Hsia Mei-Hua. Last year the producers hired Wang Hui-Ling, one of the main scriptwriters of the original CTHD film, to re-write the script. At this point there is no production date fixed and it's still too early to tell if any of the original cast will return. Ang Lee won't have time to work on the prequel until after his "The Hulk" releases (in June).   (07/02/03) According to Taiwanese news, Ang Lee won't have time to discuss the prequel until August. Reports from the past two years said the prequel would focus on the characters Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien from the book II and III. But recent reports indicated that the story of the possible prequel might not have been fixed.   (08/20/03) Taiwanese news reported that the script of the prequel is expected to be finished next month. The scriptwriter Wang Hui-Ling is planning to meet with Ang Lee in U.S. in the middle of September to finalize the script.   (11/24/03) "The Hollywood Reporter" says Ang Lee will make an adaptation of E. Annie Proulx's story "Brokeback Mountain," a love story between two cowboys.   (12/10/03) Returning to Taiwan for the Golden Horse Awards, Ang Lee confirmed that his next film would be "Brokeback Mountain", an art film on a story of gay cowboys. The CTHD prequel is still at the stage of script-writing.   (04/13/04) "UDN" (Taiwan) reports that the script of the CTHD prequel is expected to be handed in by the scriptwriter Wang Hui-Ling tomorrow. Ang Lee will start shooting "Brokeback Mountain" in June and the production of CTHD prequel can be expected in summer 2005. Besides the younger Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien, the prequel will have many new roles. Regarding the recent rumors on the possible cast, producer Hsu Li-Kong said casting has not been started - they haven't even seen the final version of the script yet.   (12/09/04) When Ang Lee was in Taiwan last week for the 2004 Golden Horse Awards, he was asked about his future film plan as well as the possible CTHD prequel. His "Brokeback Mountain" is now under post-production and it is expected to be finished next March. Ang Lee said at this moment he does not have a plan after "Mountain". He does not like to repeat the same idea. He said he would not make CTHD prequel until he sees creativity.   (03/18/05) Several Chinese newspapers reported Ang Lee will start shooting the CTHD prequel this summer in Yunnan Province of southwestern China. A "Beijing News" reporter contacted the alleged source of the news, Chen Gangwu, an action director of Jackie Chan's "The Myth". Chen Gangwu confirmed that at the end of last year he went with Ang Lee and co-producer Jiang Dean to Yunnan Province for location scouting and they chose Jiuxiang Sanjiaodong of Yunnan as a shooting location. Chen further said the filming is expected to start sometime this year but denied it's planned for the summer. The reporter also contacted co-producer Hsu Li-Kong. Hsu's assistant said although Hsu never gave up the plan of shooting the prequel, he has not heard any developments on the project lately. He said that last month, when he was discussing film plans with Ang Lee's assistant Li Liangshan, Li was talking about three possible projects but the CTHD prequel was not mentioned. [update] Director Ang Lee clarified that filming of the CTHD prequel in this summer was only a rumor. He said he would only consider one thing at a time and right now he's focusing on the upcoming "Brokeback Mountain". He said the script of CTHD prequel had been modified twice but it still needs more work.   (05/23/05) Crouching Tiger prequel has been abandoned? Seems just a rumor. Several English media have quoted this rumor originated from mainland China, that Bill Kang, one of the producers (Hong Kong side), has given up the idea of making the prequel after spending the past few months talking to several Hollywood studios but failed to bring any one of them into the prequel project. Having been following the development of this project for years, I personally highly doubt the source of this piece of "news". Hsu Li-Kong, the producer of the original film from Taiwanese side (note that CTHD is officially a Taiwanese film), who has been closely involved with Ang Lee on the prequel script writing, said last month that the key point to make the prequel is the director Ang Lee. When or whether to do it, it's all up to him. Money can't be the problem. If Ang Lee decided to make the prequel, I don't believe he would have problem getting funding. It doesn't seem that Ang Lee has abandoned the project although nobody knows when he will feel it is ready to roll.   (09/20/05) Last week, after Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain" won the Golden Lion best film award at Venice, co-producer Hsu Li-Kong said to Taiwanese reporters that he expected Ang Lee would get the award. And he said in a half joking way: "I'm getting old. Ang is getting old too. I'm not going to force him to do the the CTHD prequel anymore." He said making Wuxia film is very physically demanding and Ang Lee's health condition was not that good after making CTHD and "The Hulk". At the moment Ang Lee will be promoting his new film and they haven't fixed a plan for the next project Lee will do. Hsu worked with Ang Lee on all Lee's earlier Chinese language films.   (12/02/05) During the promotion of his new film Brokeback Mountain, director Ang Lee answered the reporters' question on his possible follow-up for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon film. "It would be a prequel, if it happens," said Lee. And he cautioned that he won't make the film until he's found the proper entry point. "I haven't found a new passion equivalent to the first one." Although a script for the prequel has been worked on for quite a while but Ang Lee didn't feel inspired by any of the versions.   (01/23/06) During the promotion of Brokeback Mountain in Taiwan last weekend, director Ang Lee said he has not decided what project to do next. He's considering a few new scripts but the CTHD prequel is not among them.   (03/06/06) Congratulations to Ang Lee for winning the best director at the Academy Awards!   (03/10/06) According to "The Hollywood Reporter", the Weinstein brothers have acquired the worldwide rights to the "Crane - Iron Pentalogy," and plan to bring the series to the stage and screen. The possible film versions may include prequels and sequels to Crouching Tiger, which will not itself be remade for the screen. The brothers hope to persuade Ang Lee to return as the director of the Chinese-language franchise.     (04/14/06) The Weinstein Co. claimed that heirs of the author of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" had a December 2005 contract giving the Weinstein Co. "the option to acquire the motion picture, television, state, publishing and other rights in the Wang Books," and filed a lawsuit trying to block Columbia Pictures, a production company for the original "Crouching Tiger" film, from using the works of author Wang. The lawsauit says a representative of the Wang family made a similar oral agreement with Columbia, and contends the written contract with Weinstein is legal, while the oral contract is not. The suit seeks an injunction barring Columbia from adapting any of Wang's works and asks the court to declare The Weinstein Co. sole owner of the collection. A few weeks ealier, director Ang Lee's assitant revealed to Taiwanese media that the project on the CTHD prequel, which Lee and co-producer Hsu Li-Kong had been working on for years (for a script), had been aborted. He did not give a reason.   (01/24/13) It seems that the Weinstein Company has decided to make a sequel.   (01/29/13) It is confirmed that Michelle Yeoh is in talks to reprise her role in the sequel.   (05/16/13) Weinstein Company announced that the production of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 will begin in Asia in spring 2014. Michelle Yeoh will reprise her role as Yu Shu Lien. Hong Kong director/action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, who was the action choreographer for the original film, will be the director and Hong Kong action actor Donnie Yen will co-star.   (07/28/14) Principal photography began on July 28, 2014 in New Zealand. The film will be shot in English. See Crouching Tiger 2 section for latest updates.

Novel outline
     I have been lucky enough to have a chance to read the Crane - Iron Pentalogy in the original Chinese version, which is great literature. The following is an outline of these five novels.
Part I: Crane Frightens KunLun (He Jing Kun Lun)
Part II: Precious Sword, Golden Hairpin (Bao Jian Jin Chai)
Part III: Sword Spirit, Pearl Light (Jian Qi Zhu Guang)
Part IV: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo Hu Cang Long)
Part V: Iron Knight, Silver Vase (Tie Qi Yin Ping)

  Part I:   "Crane Frightens KunLun"
(20 chapters)

The story begins in the late section of the Qing dynasty.

The leader of the Kun Lun clan, called old Master Bao by others, killed one of his disciples in a rage because this disciple broke the rule of not having affairs with married women. He also contemplated killing Jiang Xiao He, the young son of the disgraced dead disciple, to avoid being revenged later. Jiang Xiao He escaped. He met a martial artist from Mount Jiuhua who kindly kept him and later taught him martial arts.

Twelve years passed, Jiang Xiao He was 26 years old and became a martial art expert himself. He swore to revenge his father's death. But he and Bao Ah Luan, his childhood friend and the granddaughter of old Master Bao, are deeply in love with each other. They found themselves with a love-hate dilemma. Bao Ah Luan tried to kill herself in exchange for her grandfather's life. Jiang Xiao He was unable to save her. Seeing what he had wrought, old Master Bao was filled with regret over what he had done and also killed himself.

Jiang Xiao He sent Ah Luan's body back to their hometown. The memories were still fresh. Being deeply grieved, Jiang Xiao He went to Mount Jiuhua to live as a hermit. Later, he became an errant knight and sought to spend his life combating evil and helping the weak. He renamed himself Jiang Nan He (Southern Crane).

   * The crane is a symbol of immortality in traditional Chinese culture.
   ** Two friends of Southern Crane - one of whom later became Li Mu Bai's father and another of whom was entrusted to be Li Mu Bai's master by Southern Crane - also figure in this novel.

  Part II:   "Precious Sword, Golden Hairpin"
(34 chapters)

This story starts off thirty years after Southern Crane went to Jiuhua Mountain.

A handsome young martial artist named Li Mu Bai fell in love with the daughter of a security firm master. Yu Shu Lien was said to have no match in her martial art skills and beauty. However, Li Mu Bai soon learned that Shu Lien was already engaged to Meng Si Zhao - a son of Master Yu's friend who lived in another town and someone who Li Mu Bai had never met - by family arrangement. Li was extremely disappointed. Shortly afterwards, he decided to leave his hometown.

Master Yu was threatened by some enemies. Not wanting anything to happen to their daughter, Master and Madam Yu decided to send Shu Lien to Meng's family to get married. On the road, Master Yu was chased by the enemies. At one point, he also got framed and put into jail by a local officer who was enamored on Shu Lien's beauty but was rejected as his daughter's suitor by Master Yu.

Li Mu Bai, who was on his way off to Peking, accidentally met up with the Yu family. Li helped Shu Lien and Madam Yu to get Master Yu free but Master Yu had got very sick while in the jail and passed away soon after getting out. Before Master Yu died, Li Mu Bai promised him that he would ensure that Shu Lien and her mother got safely sent to Meng's family.

When this trio arrived at Meng's home, they learned that Meng Si Zhao had injured a local tyrant and escaped from his hometown. No one knew where he was.

Li Mu Bai went to find Meng Si Zhao for Shu Lien. In Peking he made friends as well as enemies because of his outstanding martial art skills. One of the former, Li Mu Bai was to only belatedly learn, was Meng Si Zhao. The two men became good friends.

Not knowing Meng's real identity (because he was going under a fake name at the time), Li Mu Bai told Meng about his unrequited love for Shu Lien. As a fugitive, Meng Si Zhao thought Li Mu Bai could give Shu Lien a better life. So he gave his blessings for Li Mu Bai to marry Shu Lien. When some dangerous enemies of Li Mu Bai was looking for Li, Meng Si Zhao went to fight against them - alone, knowing he probably wouldn't survive. Indeed, he did end up dying from the severe injuries he sustained in that battle.

After her mother died of sadness and illness, Yu Shu Lien left Meng's family to go to Peking to look for Meng Si Zhao (whom she did not know had perished in the meantime). Li Mu Bai felt he could not face Shu Lien upon Meng Si Zhao's death. Sometime later, he killed a local tyrant in order to protect his friend and was put in jail. Shu Lien risked her own life and broke into the jail in order to rescue him but Li Mu Bai refused to escape. In the end, Southern Crane himself got involved in this matter and took Li Mu Bai out of the jail by force. He left Li Mu Bai's sword at Shu Lien's bedside as an engagement gift (without Li Mu Bai's knowledge).

   * At this point in the story, Li Mu Bai was around 25 years old while Yu Shu Lien was 17.
   ** The book also has a significant part which is about an unusual prostitute Xie Cui Qian. She was introduced to Li Mu Bai by a friend of his when he just arrived Peking. Cui Qian' eyes reminded Li Mu Bai those of Shu Lien's. It turned out that Cui Qian came to Peking in order to escape from her savage and cruel husband, who had killed her father and forced her to marry him. This man -- Tiger Miao was his nickname -- just so happened to be the same person who killed Meng Si Zhao but later got killed by Yu Shu Lien. Although he had never before been close to a prostitute, Li Mu Bai and Cui Qian grew fond of each other. However, their story was to have a tragic end.

  Part III:   "Sword Spirit, Pearl Light"
(22 chapters)

Continued directly from the Part II.

After Li Mu Bai had been sprung out of jail, he went to Southern China under a different name as per Southern Crane's instructions and request. On the way he stole a martial arts book about paralyzing techniques from a monk named Jing Xuan. While trying to escape, he was chased and knocked into a river and disappeared.

Fast forward three years.

Yang Bao, a young martial artist, obtained 40 extremely valuable pearls. Many Jiang Hu people tried to get them from him. As a consequence of some of these attempts, Yang Bao's grandfather was killed and a sister of his was kidnapped. He himself got seriously injured and died.

Outraged by the injustice, and seeing that Yang Bao's sister was in grave danger, Yu Shu Lien returned to the Jiang Hu world to save the former. She showed herself to be brave as well as skillful.

Monk Jing Xuan and his disciples were searching for Li Mu Bai in order to get the stolen book back. One of the disgraced disciples kept harassing Yu Shu Lien after being attracted by her beauty. Shu Lien injured him in order to protect herself. Later the person died of the injury. In revenge Monk Jing Xuan attacked Shu Lien and paralyzed her twice. Due to her not know paralyzing techniques, she could not defeat him.

Unbeknownst to Shu Lien, Li Mu Bai - who by now had learned these paralyzing techniques - followed and helped her.

Convinced all the more of the pair being a perfect couple, Southern Crane ordered Li Mu Bai to marry Yu Shu Lien. But because they thought this act would dishonor Meng Si Zhao's memory, both Li and Yu refused.

The book ended with Shu Lien going with Li Mu Bai to Mount Jiuhua to practice paralyzing techniques.

   * Yang Bao happens to be the biological brother of Lo Xiao Hu (Lo).
   ** Why didn't Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien get married?
     - Li Mu Bai wanted to be faithful to Meng Si Zhao, who was his good friend and eventually died for him. He did not want to take Shu Lien away from Meng, whether or not Meng was alive. As for Shu Lien, she wanted to follow the old Chinese tradition whereby a woman of moral integrity would only go with one man in her whole life, and an engagement was almost as serious as a marriage. She told Southern Crane: "Even Brother Li (Mu Bai) wanted to marry me, I wouldn't marry him. I never forget I was engaged to Meng Si Zhao. I carry the hairpin his family gave me for the engagement with me all the time."
     The traditional practice that Shu Lien thought that she ought to adhere to probably will be very hard to understand for Westerners and today's young Chinese, especially when it is realized that Shu Lien decided to be a widow to Meng Si Zhao even though she had in fact never met her betrothed. Something else that ought to be known about this Shu Lien's decision is that, even in olden times, it was not something that was practiced by every woman who ended up in a similar situation as her. Rather, it was one that was idealized as being of an extremely honorable and respectable order.

  Part IV:   "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
(14 chapters)

Three years after the last events covered in the previous book.

Governor Yu of Xinjiang was called back to Peking to be in charge of the security of China's capital city. Yu Jiao Long, the 18 year old daughter of Governor Yu, was admired by many young women for her remarkable beauty and elitism. No one knew she was a martial art expert.

A skilled martial artist stole a precious sword named Green Destiny. Yu Shu Lien discovered it was Yu Jiao Long who had done so. She advised Yu Jiao Long to return the sword. This the younger woman did.

Yu Jiao Long was to be married off to an ugly scholar but she couldn't forget about the bandit Lo Xiao Hu whom she met three years ago in the Xinjiang desert. She stole the sword again and ran away at her wedding night. She fought with everyone who was in her way. At first, she eluded capture but her family paid dearly for her criminal actions. Her father had to resign from the position, and her mother got very sick and died. When Yu Jiao Long was captured and sent back to her home, she found herself friendless, with no one wanting to have anything to do with her.

Yu Jiao Long decided to jump off a cliff and by so doing, make people believe she had died. After doing so, she went and spent one more night secretly with Lo Xiao Hu, then left him forever (She could not become the wife of a bandit and thereby bring more shame to her aristocratic family). She headed back to the Xinjiang desert alone, from where she never returned.

   * Unlike the movie of the same name, in the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" book, Liu Tai Bo (Bo) has an important part and is the main figure who ties the story together.
   ** Unlike in the movie, Jade Fox in the book was not Yu Jiao Long's teacher. Instead, she was a pretended wife of Yu Jiao Long's real teacher, Gao Lang Qiu. Mr. Gao was a scholar who accidentally got a secret scroll on Wudang's martial arts. He secretly taught Yu Jiao Long some martial arts. But he did not know that Yu Jiao Long stole the scroll and learned much more from it by herself. He realized what happened before his death and regretted: "I've raised a poison dragon in the world!" Jade Fox was an infamous robber and killer. She hid herself in Yu family in order to avoid capture. In a night chase Yu Shu Lien killed Jade Fox and discovered the identity of the theft of the Green Dynasty (i.e., Yu Jiao Long).
   *** The "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" book also contains lengthy portions about Lo Xiao Hu's background. E.g., details are provided re how his parents got murdered and how he got separated from his brother and sisters. Also, we learn that he knew that he sought to revenge his parents' death but didn't do so, on account of his feeling that he could only live for Yu Jiao Long after meeting her. So, instead, his youngest sister went after their family's enemies, with the help of Yu Shu Lien.

  Part V:   "Iron Knight, Silver Vase"
(19 chapters)

On a snowy winter night, Yu Jiao Long gave birth to a boy in an inn on the road to Xinjiang. Unexpectedly (but on purpose), her son was taken by an officer's wife, who left a baby girl and a silver vase in his place.

After failing to find her son, Yu Jiao Long adopted the girl and named her Chun Xue Ping (Snow Vase). They lived together in the desert.

19 years later, Yu Jiao Long left the desert to look once more for her son but got very ill along the way. A young man named Han Tie Fang (Iron Aroma) elected to take care of her.

As it so happened, Han Tie Fang was looking for his mother, an officer's wife who got kidnaped by bandits when he was a baby. Yu Jiao Long realized the young man was actually her son. Knowing herself she wouldn't live long because of the illness, she wanted to take him to the desert to be with Xue Ping. However, she was too ill to finish the journey and died on the way during a storm night (and without disclosing her relationship with him to her son).

Han Tie Fang went to see Chun Xue Ping but was driven away by the young woman and her friends. He later found out his mother was actually Yu Jiao Long, the 'friend' he buried in the desert. He also met Lo Xiao Hu, who believed he had a daughter and got captured for protecting her. Han Tie Fang managed to get Lo Xiao Hu free but Lo was already badly injured and died on an icy mountain soon afterwards.

Chun Xue Ping and Han Tie Fang had more adventures while looking for the woman who Han Tie Fang thought was his mother but turned out to be Chun Xue Ping's biological mother. Xue Ping and Tie Fang finally became a happy couple - the only happy couple of this pentalogy.

   * Yu Jiao Long died at the age of 38. The book also mentioned that Yu Shu Lien died of illness back in her hometown five years earlier - when she was at her 38. Li Mu Bai - who did not die in the CTHD book the way he did in the film - went to pay his respect to Shu Lien at her graveside.

© Michelle Yeoh Web Theatre

Notes on English translations of the novels and the comic books:
- Unfortunately, as far as I know, Wang Du Lu's novels are not available in English - at least not yet. A Reuters/Variety news on 10/17/01 states that Simon & Schuster paid six figures at earlier 2001 for English-language rights to the Crane-Iron Pentalogy. But no new development has been heard since.   (updated 2014) The Weinstein Company now owns the worldwide rights to Crane-Iron Pentalogy and has plans for sequel/prequels, TV series, stage plays, and book translations.
- ComicsOne, a publisher of Chinese Kung Fu comics in the United States, has published a comic book series which is based on the original novels. Illustrated by Andy Seto in full color, the comic series starts from the second book in Wang Du Lu's pentalogy. From the information I've got, it seems the first two books of the comic series follow the original novels fairly well but the third one has quite some modifications to the story. The fourth one, well, is very different from the original novels (except for the characters' names). Hong Kong Comics Ltd. published Vol. 5 in December 2003 and Vol. 6 in March 2004. (last updated 04/14/04)
Andy Seto: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Publishing schedule:
    Vol. 1 - December 2002
    Vol. 2 - January 2003
    Vol. 3 - March 2003
    Vol. 4 - June 2003
    Vol. 5 - December 2003
    Vol. 6 - March 2004
Book covers (click to enlarge):

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny (News and Photos)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Images, Script, Production facts, Music, and more...)
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( page created: 06/27/01,   last modified: 03/06/15 )