Keanu Reeves' MAN OF TAI CHI
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Man of Tai Chi, directed by Keanu Reeves, is an elegant, exciting, and beautifully produced tale of ambition, devotion, violence, and redemption.
A young practitioner of tai chi is recruited by an underworld boss to fight in an illicit series of privately video-broadcasted bouts that, initially unknown to him, end with the death of one of the opponents. Turning his back on the classical and meditative nature of his tai chi master, the young man demonstrates amazing fighting skills, makes serious money compared with his day job as a delivery boy, gives fancy gifts to his parents, and tries to help his master rescue the centuries-old training facility and temple where tai chi is taught.
All this comes at a price. The young man strays farther and farther from his classical teachings and becomes embroiled in the affairs of the underworld. Inevitably he loses the respect of his noble and aging tai chi master.
The fight scenes are extraordinarily well done and vary in style; the star of the film, stuntman Tiger Chen, was involved in the last two Matrix films. His performances in and out of the ring are superb and convincing. Reeves as the crime lord brings his stoic and even persona to the for and in the process radiates an appropriate sense of gravitas in what could have been a cartoonish presence.
The photography and editing are splendid throughout as we split our time among today’s Hong Kong, Macau, and Beijing. The pulsating electronic music score by Kwong Wing Chan is perfect for the film.
Keanu Reeves deserves praise for directing this film. The blend of serious action and engrossing story work extremely well here and raises this film way above the many run-of-the-mill fight films out there. Highly recommended.
Review copyright © 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald