Man of Tai Chi
After a problematic and lengthy production, Keanu Reeves’ 47 Ronin finally hits theaters this month. Earlier this year though, the star of The Matrix trilogy directed his first feature film – another Asian-set action piece involving martial arts titled Man of Tai Chi.
It’s now available on home video where I watched it for the first time on Blu-ray. The trailers teased a film focused on hard-hitting and intimate fight sequences, with a little Keanu “woah” one-liners sprinkled all over, and that’s exactly what I got.
Man of Tai Chi follows mostly ordinary man Chen Lin-Hu (Tiger Hu Chen). He visits his parents regularly, doesn’t have much money and works a day job as a delivery boy. I say mostly ordinary because Chen is also the last trainee mastering the art of Tai Chi and that catches the eye of Keanu Reeves’ super rich Donaka Mark who heads up an underground reality TV-esque fighting circuit.
Chen takes advantage of the opportunity to earn some cash and save his master’s temple before things go from bad to worse, as he increasingly loses control against each new opponent. The action sequences are awesome, brutal and they never get repetitive.
Even Keanu jumps in on one and holds his own, even this long after his Matrix days. Throw in a special appearance from The Raid: Redemption star Iko Uwais and Keanu does a wonderful job of keeping viewers entertained.
The story however, and a few of the performances and characters, are over-the-top and stereotypical. They don’t kill the movie, but they prevent it from being anything more than a string of action sequences. Keanu somehow managed to hurt the film with his dialogue, almost parodying himself. If you’re a fan of Reeves, it’s totally passable and if not, it’s going to be problematic whenever people are not physically fighting on screen.
Man of Tai Chi is definitely worth picking up for fans of fight choreography. It’s raw and authentic and it makes me want to see Keanu Reeves more action films.