Available on VOD now and opening in theatres November 1st from director Keanu Reeves comes a fight like no other by the MAN OF TAI CHI.
This film tells the story of Tiger Chen (Tiger Hu Chen), a simple man who works hard to help support his family and spends time with Yang (Qing Ye), a Tai Chi Master. Training with Yang, Tiger is learning how to become a stronger man through mind over body.
But there is something in Tiger that wants to go further as he begins to compete using his Tai Chi as a fighting style that shocks everyone. This captures the attention of Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves), a man who runs a high priced fight club and sets out to recruit Tiger.
This fight club has also come to the attention of Sun Jingshi (Karen Mok) who feels the responsible for the disappearance of a fight informant. Knowing that Tiger is not going to make it out alive she tries to find a way to help him.
But Tiger’s popularity is growing and the money he is paid allows him to help family and repair the 600-year-old monastery where Yang lives. But Tiger also has to admit that there is a part that enjoys the fight.
That is until he feels the chains put on him by Donaka – and that’s when he becomes all he was meant to be.
FINAL WORD: Chen plays Tiger with the outer quiet of a man with seriously loud inner noise. That alone gives this character such depth and complexity but adding his stunning fighting skill and the story tells itself. His face shows determination one minute and such gentleness the next, ergo his loud/quiet dilemma. Chen was one of the stuntmen from THE MATRIX so choosing him to play this role is brilliant!
Reeves as Danaka – what the heck!?! Take his deep voice and add intense steely-eyed looks and this is a frakken awesome bad guy in every sense of the word. Every time he uttered the line, “does it matter?” I was thinking, “nope, sure doesn’t” because I think answering yes to that question would cause bodily harm! Not to shabby when he gets to do a little fighting of his own!
Other cast include: Simon Yam as Wong, Sam Lee as Tak Ming, Iko Uwais as Gilang Sanjaya, Michael Tong as Yuan, and Jeremy Marias as MMA Fighter.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MAN OF TAI CHI three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. This being Reeves directorial debut, he has put together an amazing film that is visually beautiful from the temple to the view beyond, precision fight sequences and well-developed characters. It doesn’t hurt that he cast the film with a martial arts person he trusts and then throws himself in as one of the scariest bad guys giving a more than stellar performance.
I have become a huge fan of the Asian films as of the last few years. Their historical pieces are brilliantly done, the action films are well produced and storylines are solid. Director/actor Reeves has tapped into that with MAN OF TAI CHI by mixing the styles of martial arts, the language and good vs. evil.
In doing the above Reeves has brought a solid film forward for fans of films like IP MAN and THE RAID REDEMPTION (two of my own personal favorites). Now MAN OF TAI CHI will easily be added to my ever-growing collection of excellent Asian martial arts films. Well-done Mr. Reeves!
In the end – he will find his center!
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