I don’t know how fair it is for me to review a martial arts movie after having spent 7 hours filming use of force training videos for a security company. Especially a movie that is closer to the art half of martial art as Man of Tai Chi. Since I have just spent considerable time focused on efficient, simple, and relatively easy to learn techniques that have demonstrably high success rates, trying to appreciate a showy Hong Kong style fight movie presents a challenge. I will endeavour to do my best.
Man of Tai Chi is a modern take on a worn story. Usual Suspects this is not; you will not find any startling, creative story telling in this movie. Taking place in China it follows the life of Tiger Chen as he is lured into the underground fighting world. It’s a predictable tale of falling from grace and loss of innocence and the inevitable split from his honourable master. The story isn’t great, and the acting isn’t stellar, so what are the redeeming qualities?
It’s very well shot and choreographed. There are some beautiful, novel and innovative martial arts scenes and techniques that highlight the flowing movement of Taichi. Is it actually Taichi? I have no idea. There’s definitely a few bones thrown to mixed martial arts crowd, and definitely some Kung Fu, but not being at all familiar with Taichi I can make no honest assessment. But there is some great fight sequences that I could believe are Taichi in action.
What I really like is you can actually see what is happening. For the most part the camera angles are wide enough that you can see what they’re doing but tight enough you’re not distanced from the action.
If you enjoyed Ninja 2 then I think you’ll enjoy this. If it drives you nuts when guys partake in a protracted fights and don’t breathe heavily, then you won’t enjoy this. And if you want to see Keanu Reeves at his most wooden, then this is your chance. (Seriously – this movie will make you truly appreciate his range and depth as an actor in The Matrix.)