Thursday, August 15, 2013

FILM REVIEW: Man of Tai Chi

Man of Tai Chi is a 2013 martial arts film starring Tiger Hu Chen, Keanu Reeves and Karen Mok and directed by Keanu Reeves. It was released on the 5th of July 2013 in China.


PLOT

A young martial artist's unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club.

WHY I WATCHED

Keanu Reeves as a director you got to at least give it a try right? There has been a lot of hype about another of Keanu’s films but this one came out first and is more my speed as I prefer unarmed combat to swords, although swords are beautiful pieces of arts.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I was really surprised by Man of Tai Chi and that surprise was pleasant. This was a nostalgic trip back to those awesome Hong Kong made films that used to play late night when I was a youngster. Those martial arts films are so different from what we get today which in my opinion are lacking and an attempt to go mainstream by combining it with other genres.



Man of Tai Chi is a barebones martial arts offering and just shuts up and gets on with it. There is only a hint of a possible future romance and nothing to detract from the story which is of a man who has come to a crossroads in his life and must choose which path to take.

The fights are excellent and pretty much stay away from the curse of modern day action films which is wire work. I only noticed the use of them in a couple of fights and fortunately it only irked me for an instant. In general the fights are expertly choreographed and feature excellent martial arts instead of just the usual brawling.

I can’t review this without talking about Keanu Reeves, I don’t know much about making films so I can’t comment on his directing other than to say I enjoyed the film. He also has a role in the film though which is something I can talk about. Donaka Mark is a seriously dark guy and his tendency to spout weird one-liners manages to work with Keanu’s unique delivery, trust me when I say he comes across as plenty sinister enough. Special mention has to go to Donaka’s 2nd in command that came close to stealing the show away from Tiger, the man has a face stonier than Mt. Everest but I found myself staring at him even when he’s in the background of a scene.

If the story of a man battling his darker nature and solid martial arts action sounds like your idea of a fun evening then Man of Tai Chi is right up your alley. Also Hollywood take note, no panoramic views, super slo-mo or CG and this still works 50% than half the martial arts based films they are making right now.

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Thomas Watson said...

A budget of around $20 million for a co-funded labor of love from Mr Reeves to a discipline that has served him well on and off screen. Made triple its budget back, garnered decent, respectful reviews across the board and he got to work with some prime Asian talent. What more can a first time director want?