Oh, hey, Neo still knows kung fu!

Featuring

Tiger Chen as someone with exactly the same name
Keanu Reeves as Donaka Mark
Karen Mok as Sun Jing Shi
Simon Yam as Supt. Wong
and Ye Qing as Qing Sha

Having performed some of the most awesome kung fu choreography in The Matrix trilogy, Keanu Reeves returns to direct kung fu choreography and be the bad guy while his mate Tiger Chen acts as the hero. Who fights with tai chi. Now, tai chi is traditionally seen as slow choreographed exercise for old people in China to practice in groups at a park. The thing is, if you actually sped up the movements, you would actually get a pretty good fighting style.

The basic premise of Man of Tai Chi is that Tiger Chen – basically as himself – is a poor delivery driver in Beijing who loves martial arts. He is the sole student of his tai chi master who preaches softness and meditation in his art form. At the same time, Keanu Reeve’s character Donaka Mark is The Bad Guy (what the hell kind of name is that? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?) is trying to find a fighter willing to kill in the ring for the ultimate in one-on-one blood sport spectacle.

They come together when Donaka (or Man With Single Facial Expression, MWSFE) lures Tiger into his fighting ring with money, something that the poor Tiger can’t resist. He goes to these fights and as they progress he becomes more violent and brutal in modifying his fighting style and attitude, to the point where he forgets the rules in a friendly tournament and injures his opponent severely. This is obviously pretty extreme and his master and friends all try to calm him down with little to show for it. He stops himself though, at the cusp of murder during a fight and realizes that he’s become a monster in his own eyes.

The thing about Man of Tai Chi is that it’s not really a movie that big questions are asked and answered. If you want philosophy mixed with martial arts, go watch The Matrix but not its sequels (because they ruined the awesomeness of the first one). Man of Tai Chi is ostensibly about showing how awesome tai chi is in the hands of a skilled fighter against various styles of martial arts from all around the world. If you want pure kung fu fighting, this is the movie for you. It’s a bit brutal at times, it’s fast paced and the fight choreography is top notch. As for the acting, I’ve already talked about Keanu “MWSFE” Reeves and unfortunately, Tiger Chen suffers from this issue in most of the film as does a great number of characters like the bloody chauffeur. It’s like watching Zoolander but everyone is doing a Blue Steel. But then again, you’re not really watching this movie for anything but the fighting scenes, so who cares?

Rating

Action good. Facial expressions bad. Also…er…action good.

Should I watch this?

If you like kung fu action movies, this is really for you. The story is…well seriously stupid, but it’s not the point of the movie anyway.

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