Man of Tai Chi (2013)

Man-of-Tai-Chi

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Typical, but fun.

Who doesn’t love a good martial arts flick now and then? Sure, most of them don’t have the best or most developed story in the world, but they usually don’t miss a beat in providing new, never-before-seen fights that never cease to wow us. There are so many martial arts films out there nowadays, but I’ve never really seen one where the fights themselves have seemed to copy off of others. Stories? Well, of course, but the fights always have something to offer, which is why we shouldn’t just ignore them. Man of Tai Chi was directed by Neo himself, Keanu Reeves.

Tiger Chen is a master of Tai Chi, an art form that isn’t naturally seen as martial arts as much as a form of meditation and self-protection. Tiger, however, feels that Tai Chi can be powerful, and it proves as much in martial arts competitions, making it almost a completely new form of fighting. When Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) learns of Tiger’s potential, he pulls him into an underground fighting competition. Each round worsens and the entire time Tiger is being filmed for some unknown purpose…possibly even for a reality show of sorts. Will Tiger lose himself, his chi? Or will he remember what he needs to in order to both survive and take down Donaka before the day is up?

I’ll be honest, the big sell for me when deciding to see this film was Keanu Reeves. I’m a Matrix fanboy, and to see Reeves doing his thing again really interested me. I wouldn’t say I was necessarily disappointed, but Reeves’s performance was not Neo, or anything like it, at that. He does fight in the film, as any good martial arts film has a boss fight, but it’s a completely different style – more rugged and stiff as Keanu towers over Tiger. That being said, it was still really well done, and I was impressed anyways.

This is a martial arts film with, yes, little development as far as story goes. A lot of you won’t care, seeing how you really came to watch the fights. If you just want to see superb fight choreography, you came to the right place, because there are some supreme fight scenes, and plenty of them to completely satisfy you. If you are someone for story, it might not interest you as much, but the story is at least compelling to continue watching. The whole…who is watching on the other side of the camera prospect is enough to make you interested in the story, if that makes enough of a difference for you.

The acting and the visuals are also pretty top notch. I’m not a tremendous fan of foreign films, and this one was partially spoken in Chinese, partially spoken in English. That being said, the casting was done rather well, and I could easily distinguish between characters, and their roles in the film. Other films like this would feel more like everything blending together. Also, foreign films aren’t so bad if most of the film is done without speech. If you’re watching a fight scene, you’re watching a fight scene and not trying to understand what they are saying by looking to the bottom of the screen. That may seem dumb, but I like that. I don’t want to miss a thing in films like this.

Man of Tai Chi is yet another martial arts film with superb fight choreography and performances by the leads. It slightly distances itself from others by introducing Tai Chi as the form of martial arts and the reality show aspect was also neat. These two elements made Man of Tai Chi a fun experience that you can enjoy yourself with till the end of the credits.

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