Two friends, ex Shaolin monks, part ways as they brush with the ongoing rebellion against the government. The ambitious one rises up to be a powerful military commander, while his betrayed friend resorts to learn the calm ways of Tai Chi.
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Junbao (Jet Li) is a monk who grows up in a Shaolin temple with his friend Tienbao. Their friendly competitions to see who is stronger frequently gets them into trouble. At a competition for promotion to a higher place in Shaolin, Tienbao almost kills another student for cheating and using a concealed weapon. After a disagreement with a master, who refuses to believe Tienbao, a fight erupts which results in Junbao and Tienbao being expelled from the temple. Having lived in a temple their entire lives, they have trouble adapting to the outside world and eventually gets mixed up with local rebels who frequently steal from a corrupt governor and give the proceeds back to the poor. Tienbao, who was always very ambitious and competitive, gets tired and disillusioned by their new lifestyle, accepts an offer by the governor to join his army. The two childhood friends reluctantly decide to go their separate ways. Seeing an opportunity to secure a promotion in the army, Tienbao sets a trap for... Written by
One of my favorite Hong Kong actors, Jet Li, does what I call his best film in "Tai Chi Master." Starring alongside Michelle Yeoh and a dozen other folks whose name I forgot, Li plays Junbao, a monk whose best friend betrays him and becomes a ruthless whacko. This leaves him only one option: grab a pole and start clubbin' baddies. While some parts are just too cheesy to mention, i.e. people flying around and some ridiculously hokey-looking effects (you can see the cable attached to a guy's back at one point), the best fights take place with just good ol' Jet Li, a pole, and an army of bad guys, where there is no room to fly around or do the ultra-powerful Buddhist Palms. Give Tai Chi Master a try. It's a love-hate thing for most people, and in my case, it's a love thing. This movie is one of the five best kung-fu flicks ever made, in my opinion.
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