Friday, January 3, 2014

Tai Chi Time

I swear I didn't do it on purpose - I wasn't paying attention to the Netflix queue, plus some Very Long Wait movies didn't show up, and I got a Tai Chi weekend.

First, Keanu Reeve's directorial debut: Man of Tai Chi (2013). It stars Tiger Hu Chen, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stuntman. as the Man. He is a promising student, but his master fears that he is not controlling his Tai Chi, but letting it control him. Mysterious millionaire Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) spots him in a match and decides to recruit him for an underground fight ring.

Donaka Mark - what kind of name is that? Spelled one way in Japanese, it means "inside the earth". Spelled "donniker" in Aussie slang, it means toilet. Is Donaka his family name, coming first as in Chinese practice, with Mark his given name? Or his he really the target of a scam, the "mark"? Perhaps we will never know.

Reeves gets a very Keanu-like performance out of Hu - that blank look of hurt incomprehension that he perfected. Hu even resembles Reeves a little. But he fights like a demon. The fights are staged in a few settings: traditional temple courtyards, tournaments, sterile corporate rooms, and of course, in CGI world.

Yes, the Final Boss fight is with Keanu, and they need some serious CGI to pull it off. I can't tell if it is all CGI or a stuntman with a Keanu face applied digitally, but I don't think that's him fighting.

Other than that, it's an pretty decent kung fu flick. One of my favorite plain-faced beauties, Karen Mok, plays a detective after Donaka's fight ring. Although I kid Reeves about his dim-but-pretty appearance, he seems to have a good touch for this. I'm looking forward to 47 Ronin.

Tai Chi Hero (2012) is the sequel to Tai Chi Zero, which was a combination straight martial arts flick, goofy martial arts flick and steampunk martial arts flick. This episode is a lot less goofy than the first, and maybe a little more steam-punky. Mainly just an ordinary kung-fu movie with some funny bits. The surprise ending -- semi-SPOILER -- that ties together the steam punk and the Tai Chi is pretty cute though.

And there is supposed to be a third movie to this trilogy, which I will also see, of course.

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