Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Man of Tai Chi (2013) Review

    I remember growing up looking forward to all the action movies coming out every summer, for a while during the era of Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damm we had films like that coming our fairly regularly.  But, after Jackie Chan, a few Matrix films and some of Jet Li's stuff it seems that form of action is pretty scarce.  So a while back when I saw trailers for some films that seemed like they were fitting the bill I was pretty excited.  I have finally seen both of them, and Man of Tai Chi is definitely the better movie.

This film is directed by and stars Keanu Reeves as the main villain who runs an underground fight club for the 1 percenters.  He plays Donaka Mark a private security company CEO who does the illegal fight club streams on the web to the rich as his black market income.  A lot of my friends don't like Reeves because they find him a little dry in most of his performances but for this film that actually works well for him as a villain.  I don't know if this is his directorial debut, but if it is I'm glad he didn't try to go too artsy fartsy and went with something on the level of a very serious, Saturday afternoon Kung-Fu theater film.

Reeve's playing the antagonist gave him plenty of time to focusing on directing a film that displayed the actions and acting very well along with some decent visuals of Beijing and overlaying shots of the city.  The star of this film is Chen Lin-Hu who plays Tiger Chen.  Tiger is a practitioner of Tai Chi and is trying to show that it is a very powerful martial art and not just for exercise as many people see it today.  He competes in sanctioned tournaments and does well until he is tempted by Mark and his corrupt no rules tournament.  It also shows Tiger's struggle with his own place in the martial arts style he represents and fighting off the temptation of power versus enlightenment.  As a practitioner of martial arts myself, I appreciate these underlying messages in films like this and it has not been done as well since Jet Li's The One.

Man of Tai Chi gave me what I wanted when I was excited about these films before they were released, Only God Forgives was not too bad just a little weird where as this film delivered on what I was expecting. Man of Tai Chi is rated 'R' and you can catch both films streaming on +Netflix now.

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