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Tai Chi Zero (2012)

Tai ji 1: Cong 0 kai shi (original title)
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Yang travels to Chen Village to learn a powerful form of Tai Chi. Though villagers are forbidden from teaching outsiders, Yang becomes their best hope for survival when a man arrives with a plan to build a railroad through the village.

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(screenplay) (as Chia-lu Chang), (story) | 1 more credit »
7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hark-On Fung ... Lao Zhao
... The Freak (as Jayden Yuan)
... Nan
... Fang Zi Jing (as Eddie Peng Yu-Yen)
... Mother Yang
... Chen Zai Yang (as Feng Shao Feng)
... Dong
... Chen Yu Niang
... Grand Uncle (as Tsui-Fan Fung)
Di Wu ... Chen You Zhi
... Chen Geng Yun (as Chen Si Cheng)
Naijin Xiong ... Chen Geng Yun's Wife
... Chen Chang Xing / Laborer
Da Ying ... Governor
Wenkang Yuan
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Storyline

Young genius Yang Luchan travels to Chen Village to learn the forbidden secrets of martial arts, but quickly learns that the village is menaced by a formidable battalion of Steampunk soldiers. The villagers realize that in order to save their home, they must trust this strange outsider with their knowledge of Tai Chi. Written by Production

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

See the extraordinary life of founder of the Yang style Tai Chi.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and martial arts action throughout | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

27 September 2012 (China)  »

Also Known As:

Tai Chi Zero  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$85,094, 21 October 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$212,094, 23 November 2012

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$25,328,480, 1 November 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Followed by Tai chi 3: Dian feng zai wang See more »

Soundtracks

Claire de Lune
Written by Claude Debussy
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User Reviews

Tai Chi 0 = Something Old + Something New
4 October 2012 | by See all my reviews

First off, I would recommend Tai Chi 0-- if only I can decide whether to recommend watching in the theaters or waiting to watch it back-to-back with its sequel on DVD... Cos most of my issues with Tai Chi 0 has to do with how it tries (& fails?) to "stand alone" as an inconclusive (inconsequential?) prequel. I mean, how would you feel if you found out that the hilariously "over-sold" trailer (in English, Mandarin and various Chinese dialects) circulating for Tai Chi 0 is actually a trailer for-- and contains footage from-- both this movie and its sequel?

It is also easy to see why Tai Chi 0 elicits such a wide variety of opinions-- it has something old and something new, and they are not so much "meshed together" as "layered on"... The old stuff is everything you would expect from an old-school kung-fu flick, and the new stuff is the latest fads in video-game aesthetics-- so depending on which way you lean, you might find as much "forced humor" (if you expected kung-fu drama) as "forced melodrama" (if you expected video-game hi-jinks). Nowhere as wacky and creative as Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer nor as elegant and nostalgic as Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, director Stephen Fung's Tai Chi is more of a new take on the "kung-fu film as comic-book fantasy" genre in the vein of the "Storm Riders/Warriors" franchise.

And as someone who enjoys an old-school kung-fu flick as much as the latest video games, Tai Chi 0 literally pulled me around in different directions. On the one hand, I liked that the corny 1970's convention of kung-fu actors shouting out their styles/moves now comes with animated sur-titles and graphics; on other hand, the graphical "overlay" somewhat distracts from the sheer joy of watching Sammo Hung's seasoned fight choreography being pulled off by actors who's gone through martial arts training. So for my tastes, the core story and conflicts are presented too fluffily while the visual gimmicks are sprinkled on too liberally.

Perhaps this is due to Tai Chi 0 being a prequel that sets up a main story and conflict which will only be seen in later movies-- despite a lengthy introduction of the protagonist's story arc early on, Tai Chi 0 is really about how the old master Chen and his daughter deal with the forced relocation of their village. And fortunately, veteran actor Tony Leung easily carried off the central drama of film as the old master Chen, while the newcomers simply played up their kung-fu movie stereotypes (feisty girl, dorky guy, etc). Tai Chi 0 starts hitting its stride in its 2nd half-- when this historically relevant but made-up narrative (the original Chen village, now a small town, is still around) comes to the fore-- and doesn't let up until old master Chen finally unleashes his kung-fu.

I mean, for all of Tai Chi 0's "light touch", there's no disguising the fact that this is an old-school "blood-and-gluts" kung-fu story in a historical-fantasy setting-- with 3 on-screen deaths of named characters in the first 15 minutes and another in the later half of the movie-- and had it gotten much better writing and directing, I'm sure I wouldn't have missed any of post-production stylistics one bit. Cos the final and best fight in the movie for me involved nothing more than getting Tony Leung into 2 months of Tai Chi boot camp, some good old-fashioned wire-work, and a big wind machine. But in contrast, one of my favorite bits was the protagonist running around the village like a first person RPG video gamer searching for a quest reward... See what I mean about this movie tearing me apart?

If I sound like I'm quibbling, I am.... Tai Chi 0 is quite enjoyable, if not really memorable, and does a good enough job setting up the sequel. But as a kung-fu film, it is just nowhere as coherent or satisfying as the classics-- cos where Stephen Chow or Ang Lee would take great care to introduce audiences to the "reality" of their kung-fu fantasies and set things up for dramatic/comic effect, Stephen Fung crams the protagonist's entire back-story into the first 15 minutes of the movie before dropping him into a side role-- and then randomly (cleverly?) adds glowing eyes, X-ray film perspectives and even a First-Person Sequence?!

So in the end, pardon me for submitting this review but reserving my vote until I get to see the sequel...


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