Roze-Rating: 3 / 5
Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with this relentless martial arts film exposing the powers of Tai Chi. It follows the transformation of Tiger Chen from an honorable man of the martial arts to a greedy underground fighter. Manipulating him through this journey is Donaka Mark (Kaunu Reeves), who exploits Tiger’s transformation to a select few. What Tiger doesn’t know is that Mark is not in it for the fighting but for the killing.
This film may not satisfy the few craving a kung fu flick with strong characters and an exciting narrative as Man of Tai Chi lack in those departments. The premise is quite straight forward, a man strives to take Tai Chi beyond its limits. A sketchy millionaire offers him money to fight in random locations, allowing him to release the beast within himself like never before. Once getting too addicted to hurting people he realizes he has crossed the dishonorable line of the martial arts code. Thereon he tries to redeem himself. The characters are also quite one dimensional as well, except for the protagonist. He experiences quite dramatic moral changes. Other than that there are no other characters to be interested in.
What the film lacks it gains in badass fight scenes which are practically all throughout the film. I suppose compared to your odd Kung Fu flicks the fights may not be too unique but they are nonetheless exciting to watch. Keanu Reeves does a great job in filming these fights and making them easy to watch but also exciting. What stops it from getting boring is that Tiger Chen fights a number of different fighters with particular fighting skills which gives the fighting sequences diversity. Tiger also grows as a fighter as the fights go on, he gradually gets more intense until he eventually explodes.
Tiger Chen puts in a great performance turning from stuntman to lead man. What makes it that more awesome is that he does all his own stunts but he isn’t that bad of an actor either. That could be me blinded from all the subtitle reading but from what I saw he wasn’t too shabby. Keanu Reeves plays a man of very few words, I suppose that was to give him a constant ominous demeanor but ultimately it felt kind of odd. Nevertheless he makes a badass fighting opponent.
Man of Tai Chi is a story about a man of innocence being turned into a man of evil after experiencing too much power. It takes awhile but once realizing he has lost all integrity of what Tai Chi really is, he manages to dig deep and become the master he has been training for all his life. Decent modern kung fu flick but nothing unique. That being said it’s not a bad first directorial attempt by Keanu Reeves.