Man Of Tai Chi 2013
"Something that's good can still have a little bit of bad in it, and something that's bad still has a little bit of good".
From the "The One" & only man who gave us the line "woah.. i know kung fu" comes debut film director Keanu Reeves.
Everyone loves Reeves & it's not because of his acting. We all love Point Break, Speed, The Devils Advocate & of course The Matrix.. the first one. Reeves has come a long ways from the days of Bill & Ted.
Reeves has delivered a well choreographed sequence of cinematic martial arts tied together in a simple plot to keep the audience engrossed. Most of the dialogue is subtitled in Mandarin or Chinese and the rest in spoken English.
Reeves is set up as the villain, which seems a bit odd based on all the roles you have seen him in the past. I personal found it mildly comical and his mean face is present almost the whole time on screen,
This film is Fight Club meets Ong Bak with Tai Chi.
Tai Chi..? WTF..?
Yes, Tai Chi. What an interesting premise for a kung fu film to concentrate on Tai Chi as a form of martial art & demonstrating its lethal agenda when wielded.
The film centres around Tiger Chen, who worked on stunts on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon & The Matrix, is a Tai Chi student, who trains under the guidance of his concerned Master Yang. Unbeknown to him, Chen competes on the side in Karate Kid- esk tournaments, testing his style against others in a televised point awarded tournaments.
Tiger Chen really is the best around, demonstrating how he has evolved the peaceful meditative ways of Tai Chi into an unmatched style that competes against many of the new & traditional arts.
Chen works as a courier delivering parcels from a scooterish delivery cart. Between getting drilled by his boss for arriving seconds late & tournament fighting, Chen trains at an old run down temple.
There is hint of "Using the force" where Chen & Master Yang have a relationship like Luke & Yoda in Empire Strikes Back.
You have a skilled developing student that is growing powerful but must learn guidance & control. A character that has the potential for good or bad.
The Ying Yang makes a visual appearance to visually demonstrate the the turmoil of the individual.
"Something that's good can still have a little bit of bad in it, and something that's bad still has a little bit of good". - The Man (Two Hands)
As the film builds, Donaka Mark (Reeves) sets up the premise of a security job to Chen in order to lure him to a meeting.
Donaka is on the radar with Hong Kong police officer Sun Jingshi (Karen Mok, who played a role in Shoalin Soccer) assigned to investigate the underground fight club. Sun has already lost an informant that was fighting in the inner circles of Donaka's secret racket.
Chen doesn't wish to participate as it goes against his training & believes it to be dishonourable . Shortly later his temple comes under violation codes that require large sums of money to bring up to scratch or developers will take over to modernise.
Hmmmm.. How convenient???
As Chen battles the conflict within he becomes seduced not by the substantial prize money but by how far he can test the limits of his art form.
The fight scenes are delivered beautifully with no super close shaky cams, everything is shot to display true martial arts in all its glory. Each fight sequence is originally choreographed & becomes more heightened & intense.
Watching Chen's strength grow but also watching his dark side start to manifest you want to rub your hands together in delight & let out a maniacal cackle.
Reeves removes his glasses and sheds his long black duster, showing us that he can still fight. Credit to him as his martial art skill from the Matrix is mediocre at best, it has improved. The choreography is quite stunningly entertaining throughout which compensates for Reeves' abilities.
I really enjoyed the anime style of soundtrack that you may hear in Appleseed or CyberCity OEDO 808. Pumping electo beats, metal electric guitars & some ancient Chinese meditative ambience are fused to deliver high intensity fight sequences & story line.
A great watch for kung fu fanatics..
I give this quest for inner peace-
7.4 inner demons out of 10.