Remember last month, when the Weinstein Brothers were bragging all over town about their acquisition of the rights to the Crane-Iron Pentalogy, the series of books by Wang Du Lee from which Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was born? And how it would give them "an opportunity to do something revolutionary" whatever that means? Well, it turns out the people at Columbia think the revolution is theirs, and the two sides are headed to court to fight it out, hopefully in a battle that features abundant wire-work.

According to Columbia representatives, the studio acquired the rights to four books in the Penalogy (presumably all but Crouching Tiger) last year though an oral agreement with one Dr. Hong Wang, who, at least sometimes, is "authorized to represent [Lee's heirs] in such deals." The Weinsteins, meanwhile, claim that they, too, got the rights through Dr. Wang, but in December of last year, via a written agreement. Uh oh. Columbia believes that, since their agreement was reached first, it invalidates the subsequent contract signed by Wang and Weinstein reps. The plot thickens, however, because (according to lawyers for the Weinsteins) Lee's heirs deny any knowledge of the Columbia agreement. And even if it DOES exists, say those lawyers, it "would be unenforceable under the U.S. Copyright Act" for reasons that are unstated and well beyond me.

We'll keep any eye on the case and let you know if anything interesting happens; either way, it's going to be a while before we seen any Crouching Dragon sequels.