Tiger Chen is a Tai Chi student who is rather rebellious and uses Tai Chi to fight despite his master's concerns. When the temple where he studies get threatened from modern redevelopment, he fights in an underground fight club to get money the temple needs. However he soon realizes that his employer has other negative motives. Written by
I think I just found myself a new favorite director
It wasn't exactly a surprise, though. To paraphrase a character from the movie, I knew he had it in him. But knowing and actually seeing are two different things. The movie has an old school feel to it - and yet not. It builds slowly, maybe too slowly for most people's taste. Slowly, subtly, steadily; like the bass line of a Foo Fighters song. Like a lazy snake that uncoils in the sun. Like Chi in meditation. It picks up its pace only after 40 minutes or so. But until then, the audience is given plenty of details, hints and reference to work with - if so inclined. And when things do start happening, it's beautiful to watch. Yes, it does have a few stiff and/or formulaic moments but given the genre and it being a directorial debut, this was inevitable ;) Also, in spite of the genre and the references/homages to other movies,Reeves' directing style is original.He might have been inspired by the masters, but he doesn't borrow from any of them. Like Tiger, Reeves created his own style: ironic,realistic, minimalist, sharp, punctual, complex,subtle, multi-layered. Although being promoted as a 'kung-fu movie', Man of Tai Chi is much more than that. It's a meditation on many aspects and trappings of today's life. But none of them are spelled out in neon letters; it's up to the audience to recognize them. All in all, it's like... a Chinese menu: there's something in it for everyone, but some of the dishes are not everyone's favorites...
If there's one thing the movie fan in me wanted more of, it's real interaction between Reeves' and Karen Mok's characters. I would have wanted to see the sparks fly ;) But the more I think about it, the more I realize that by not including that element, the team made the right artistic decision which served the story, not the sheer entertainment factor. And that's a bold thing to do.
Well done, Mr.Reeves. very well done. Looking forward to the next one :)
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