Man of Tai Chi | Movie review

Man of Tai Chi movie poster malaysia large

Chinese title: 太极侠
Release date in Malaysia: July 18th 2013
Distributor / studio: United International Pictures / Village Roadshow Pictures, China Film & Wanda Groups

Rated: 18
Genre: Martial arts action
Languages: English, Cantonese, Mandarin
Running Time: 105 minutes
Director: Keanu Reeves
Writer: Michael G. Cooney
Cast: Tiger Chen, Keanu Reeves, Karen Mok, Simon Yam, Michael Tong, Sam Lee, Ye Qing, Yu Hai

Synopsis: “Man Of Tai Chi” marks the directorial debut of actor Keanu Reeves. Tiger Chen stars as a young martial artist who is recruited to take part in a no-rules underground fighting tournament. The tournament’s leader, played by Reeves, is set on corrupting the young fighter.

Verdict: Entertainingly horrendous is the best compliment I can give to Man of Tai Chi. It’s a crossover of cliches from traditional Kung Fu flicks and from Hong Kong police-crime films with acting and dialogues so bad that it makes the dozens of similarly plotted straight-to-DVD movies seem like masterpieces. The fight scenes are entertaining and flashy (with a lot of unnecessary posing) but may seem completely unrealistic to hardcore MMA fans. The film features The Raid: Redemption (2012) Indonesian martial art star Iko Uwais didn’t use him for a proper fight scene, and the beautiful Chinese actress Ye Qing but didn’t develop her character’s love relationship with the hero or at least get her topless. It makes one wonder what exactly Keanu Reeves wanted to offer in this movie besides the commendable fight choreography and martial arts display of Tiger Chen, who shows why a stuntman like himself shouldn’t have played any leading role of films with dialogues and story.

Second opinion: “It’s all right, the fight scenes are quite cool…” (girlfriend).

Malaysian censorship: Nothing to cut ’cause it’s not very brutal.

Subtitles: According to my girlfriend, the Chinese subtitles were apparently very elementary and inaccurate, as though it’s translated from the English subtitles.

Rating: 1 / 5

[SPOILER SECTION BEGINS HERE]——————————————————————————————–

Most annoying phrase: “You must meditate,” that’s what the protagonist’s sifu, Master Yang (Yu Hai), tells him whenever he tries to explain his frustrations to him.

Most incompetent police & villains in a film: A police detective woman (Karen Mok) who doesn’t suspect that her illegal underground fighter-turned-undercover man (Tiger Chen) is bugged by the bad guys she’s chasing even after the guy which she promised to look after has mysteriously disappeared. A villain (Keane Reeves) who hires a hitman murder this armed police woman with his bare hands. Whaaat….?

Typically dumb ending & worst scene: So it all boils down to this; the Tai Chi man Tiger Chen visits his temple and the villain Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) is waiting there for him after being able to escape from the “successful” police raid on his Truman Show-like death tournament and apparently SWIMMING back to China from I can’t really recall where. And of course, they fight. The earlier fight scenes are way more entertaining then this final climatic one ’cause Keanu Reeves’ movements are slower and less flashy. When he kicks, it reminds me of how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar kicks in Bruce Lee’s Game of Death. Although being just an underground fighting tournament organiser, Donaka manages to put up a long fight against the unbeaten Tai Chi man. Then at the end of the fight, Chen fires an qi ball (hadouken-ish move), which the film doesn’t explain how he learns this supernatural ability, and Donaka presumably dies after vomitting and having a brief headache caused by that “air ball”. The hero not only doesn’t face any sort of police charges, he also gets to keep the temple that’s under demolition order from the government. #facepalm

Expressionless robot face Kristen Steward & Keanu Reeves meme

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