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Fun if deeply flawed
Leofwine_draca17 March 2015
MAN OF TAI CHI marks a collaboration between Hollywood and China as the studios join forces to make a traditional tournament-based martial arts flick. The film is directed by and stars Keanu Reeves as an evil millionaire who mounts violent fight tournaments and broadcasts them to internet viewers in a bid for fame and fortune.

What MAN OF TAI CHI has going for it are the plentiful fight sequences, all of them expertly choreographed by Yuen-Woo Ping. It's hard to go wrong with tournament-style films - they're a staple of B-movies, after all - and the almost constant stream of hard-hitting fights makes this great fun to sit through.

There's little more to it than the action, however, seeing as the film is deeply flawed. Reeves's debut direction is applaudable, but they could have picked a better person than a composer to write the trite, predictable storyline. Elsewhere, Tiger Hu Chen proves to be a charisma-free leading man, despite his impressive tai chi skills, while Karen Mok overacts for all her worth. Simon Yam is barely in it despite being prominently billed. Worst of all, Iko Uwais makes a cameo appearance and doesn't even get to fight - the dumbest decision in the entire movie. My recommendation is to watch it for the fights but don't go in expecting much else, because you won't get it.
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Beautiful fight choreography but limited drama
SnoopyStyle2 August 2014
HK Police detective Sun Jingshi (Karen Mok) obsessively investigates ruthless wealthy powerful Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) who runs an underground fight club. Tiger Chen (Tiger Hu Chen) studies under Tai Chi Master Yang. He is a meek delivery guy in his normal life. Donaka offers him fights for money which he refuses at first. When the 600 year old Temple is under threat from developers, he needs money to fix it up.

The great thing in this movie is the fight choreography. The fights are beautiful dances. It is extremely well done. There is a good character relationship between the teacher and student. It's a descend into the dark side that Darth Vader should have had. That's the good part of the movie. The bad parts are all the affectless acting led by the king Keanu Reeves. His directing debut is competent but shows a monotonous doggedness. He doesn't show much excitement other than the fights. The last fight does have some problems. It's not set up properly. Keanu Reeves needs to show his power before. There isn't much drama here but it's still worth a watch.
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nogodnomasters3 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The film centers on Tiger Chen (Tiger Hu Chen) who is a competition Tai Chi fighter. He is recruited by the wealthy and secretive Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) to fight privately for him against a series of diverse fighters. His Chi becomes out of control. Donaka is also playing a cat and mouse game with the police.

The film consists of numerous fight sequences, some long, some short. It also has numerous scenes where Tiger has to cope with problems that require him to keep fighting. There is no anti-gravity fighting in this film. The film freely mixes Chinese and English and has subtitles in both languages. Unfortunately the font is white as is the garment background making some words impossible to read.

It was one of the more entertaining fight films I have seen.

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity.
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Learn and practice
kosmasp15 October 2014
This is an action movie. And even though Keanu Reeves might not be Iko Uwais (who has a short appearance, too short if you ask me), even he's made looking good fighting. This might actually be one of his better performances (definitely in recent years). But the main role is played by someone else. The Man of Tai Chi! And as that title suggests, this man knows his Tai Chi.

Or so he thinks, because as with most good action movies, he's actually still learning. Fighting-wise and life-wise that is. The movie is predictable with a sub-police story to hold the rest of it together. It might not be the most interesting movie plot-wise, but it delivers where it should: You cannot fault the action on display here. There are some very amazing action sequences put together ... just sit back, watch and enjoy
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"Kill or be killed. That's what they want!"
classicsoncall16 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
I thought at times the story here was unfocused and confusing, with some muddled direction by first timer Keanu Reeves. I'm generally okay with Reeves as an actor but it looked like he was trying to cram too much into this film as director. Then too much wound up being not enough, as the story was formulaic and rather predictable. There also seemed to be a number of nods to other pictures, as "The Matrix" connection was pretty obvious, and the fight scene in which Tiger Chen (Tiger Hu Chen) was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct looked like a direct lift from "The Karate Kid". Chen's opponent even led off with a crane stance, with Chen reacting like a Cobra Kai student. Later rather than sooner the story line comes into focus and the unmasking of Donaka Mark's (Reeves) underground fight club is revealed as a corrupt enterprise. I did enjoy the superbly choreographed fight scenes, but had to elicit a considerable groan at the showdown between Tiger and Donaka, because try as I might, I can't give very much credence to that momentous 'air punch'. You think it would work if John Wick tried it?
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Shallow storyline, flawed movie, and no, just no...
paul_haakonsen13 October 2016
I finally got around to watching "Man of Tai Chi", albeit three years after it was initially released. And I had some level of expectation to it, I must admit. But I am sad to say that the movie didn't live up to my expectations in the least way.

This marks the most laughable and generic acting performance of Keanu Reeves so far. I have never seen him more out of touch with a movie or seen him seem more distant than he did here. Sure his body was there physically, but his mind was elsewhere. And it was reflected in both his performance, but also in the way that he delivered his dialogue.

The story in "Man of Tai Chi" was quite simplistic, and actually wasn't more than just a shallow story spiced up by martial arts. The story in this movie was just laughable and stupid. And it didn't really help the movie in any way that the dialogue throughout the movie was not impressive.

I must say that I was initially a bit excited about seeing Karen Mok, Simon Yam, Iko Uwais, Tiger Hu Chen and Keanu Reeves together in a martial arts movie. But it was a short lived excitement, because "Man of Tai Chi" was an under mediocre experience, to be bluntly honest.

While we are on the cast talents, then it was really Karen Mok who was carrying the bigger part of the movie, despite not really being the main character. Tiger Chen did alright, but he was just restrained by having nothing worthwhile of a script to work with, and while his martial arts was impressive, it can only do so little to salvage the movie. It was a shame that Simon Yam only had such a small role in the movie, because he is a great actor. Iko Uwais was also deprived of a proper chance to showcase his martial arts as his screen time was limited as well. And on a side note, then it was also a nice treat to see Sam Lee in the movie, despite only having a small role. And as I mentioned above then Keanu Reeves was nowhere near his usual performance level in "Man of Tai Chi".

The martial arts in the movie was quite good, and there was a lot of it. Actually it felt like the movie was crammed with excessive martial arts scenes to make up for the lack of a plausible and entertaining storyline. And while it is enjoyable to watch martial arts, a movie should also have a proper storyline.

"Man of Tai Chi" was a disappointment, and it manages to score a less than mediocre rating of four out of ten stars from me, solely because of the martial arts and the impressive cast. If you enjoy martial arts movies, then there are far, far better choices available.
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An Above-Average Martial Arts Epic
zardoz-1331 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Actor & director Keanu Reeves' "Man of Tai Chi" amounts to an Asian version of "Fight Club," but more as a crime thriller than a social document. Donaka Mark is a suspicious looking character who orchestrates underground fights from remote locations with the combatants tangling in private arenas equipped with surveillance cameras. When Mark's fighters don't follow his orders, bad things happen. Meantime, the authorities are investigating him, but they don't have much luck because he is too elusive for them. The first fighter disobeys Mark's order and Mark shows up as a man in a black mask in the arena and kills him and later stabs the fighter to death. An up and coming young fighter, Chen Lin-Hu (Tiger Hu Chen of "House of Fury"), catches the attention of the ruthless Mark who is searching for 'kill or be killed' killer and he finds the correct combination in his latest protégé. Initially, Chen Lin is on board with things. He uses the money to rebuild his temple where he was trained. While all this is going on, a dedicated police inspector Sun Jingshi (Karen Mok) is determined to bust Mark. Eventually, Mark and Chen have a face-off at his old temple.

"Man of Tai Chi" is reminiscent of "Enter the Dragon" with Reeves playing the villain. He makes a black-hearted villain if there ever was one. The spectacle of the fights and Yuen Wo Ping's choreography make this an above-average martial arts epic. This also marks the directorial debut of Reeves and he has conjured up an interesting premise that plays into two themes prevalent in contemporary cinema: the death of innocence and surveillance gone mad. Once Mark finds a fighter, he keeps eternal tabs on him like the NSA appears to be doing. Essentially, our young hero is on track to sell his soul to the Devil—Donaka Mark—but he manages to escape this super villain when he reverts to his origins. Several famous fighters appear in the arena with our hero, including Iko Uwais from "The Raid: The Redemption." The action is lensed on location in exotic settings such as Hong Kong and Beijing. While it doesn't wear out its welcome at 105 minutes, the film's primary weakness is the lack of charisma that both Reeves and Chen Lin Hu fail to project. Nevertheless, martial arts fans owe to themselves to watch "Man of Tai Chi."
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"Let the show begin"
KineticSeoul14 August 2013
Now I was really looking forward to this one, mainly because it's Keanu Reeves directorial debut. And I can just say that it's a passable movie. This incorporates few new ideas, like with the movements of the camera that sometimes goes around in 360. And although the fights seem choreographed there is a bit of rawness to it that I liked. I really wanted to like this movie, since not only because it's Keanu Reeves directorial movie and since he worked on the script on and off for 5yrs. But one of his reason to make this movie was for a friend. Who was his trainer in "The Matrix" trilogy. And because Keanu actually went to China and put a lot of effort into promoting this movie. So I even watched it a second time thinking I might enjoy it a bit more or at least appreciate the effort the second time around. I can say this movie does come off a bit amateurish which is understandable. And it's so darn unintentionally cartoony and corny in a lot of areas. Also some parts just doesn't make any sense at all. Even the villain of this movie Donaka Mark(Keanu Reeves) although not ambiguous and is cool, materialistic and stylish. I just couldn't get his intentions and motives, it tells you but it still doesn't make sense. Keanu Reeves is a fan of the kung-fu genre and although it shows that he put a lot of effort and passion into this project. It just isn't a good movie, it's watchable and has it's moments but that is about it. Also the CGI is downright awful, although it's just very few parts. The soundtrack is however cool.

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Lots of fighting action, but a slow story.
OllieSuave-00712 November 2013
This is a martial arts film directed by Keanu Reeves about delivery man Chen Lin-Hu (Tiger Hu Chen) who is skillful in Tai Chi that was led to join an illegal fight club, headed by Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves). Chen needs the money from the club to save his master's ancient temple from being razed, but Mark eventually wants Chen to start fighting battles that only ends in the death of the opponent, which is something that goes against the Tai Chi philosophy that Chen was taught.

While a good message delivered about the meditation and philosophy of the Tai Chi skill, with plenty of martial arts action mixed in, this movie lacks a compelling story and good acting. Keanu Reeves and Tiger Chen each gave a very mediocre and wooden performance - no emotion and substance. Mark's video cameraman tried too hard to be the hipster of the movie, attempting to sound cool and ghetto at the same time, which was really irritating; I think it rubs salt in the wound to the already sub-par acting. The subplot about police detective Sun Jingshi (Karen Mok) pursuing Mark was pretty entertaining, but not emphasized enough. The story could have been more captivating if more focus was placed on the police investigating the fight club; however, it was overshadowed by the excessive fight scenes. This made the movie pretty predictable and lacking suspense.

The fight sequences though, especially with Chen and his master, were pretty awesome to watch. It does make the movie go a little faster, which is sometimes dragged by the slow-moving plot.

Overall, if you enjoy nothing but martial arts action, this film is for you. But, if you like a good balance of martial arts and drama, than this film falls just short of that.

Grade C
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There's something about the whole movie that just reeks.
Hellmant5 December 2013
'MAN OF TAI CHI': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with this Chinese-American multilingual martial arts film. Reeves co-stars in the movie as it's main villain and his friend stuntman Tiger Hu Chen (who inspired the story) stars as the film's Tai Chi trained hero. The movie has Tiger playing a martial arts expert who's lured into the world of underground fighting, which is televised to those willing to pay enough money to see it. It was written by first time feature film writer Michael G. Cooney and also stars Karen Mok as a Hong Kong Police Captain investigating the underground fighting ring. The movie has some decent martial arts and a certain amount of goofy Kung Fu B movie appeal but mainly it's just a bad film.

Chen plays a martial arts student, named Chen Lin-Hu, under the tutelage of a Tai Chi Master, Yang (Hai Yu). He is physically an expert at the art form but his master fears he doesn't have the philosophical knowledge and character to control his powers. When Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) offers him a job doing security at his business he jumps at the chance for new, and exciting, employment but he soon learns that Mark wants him to compete in his underground fighting ring instead. Believing it to be dishonorable, to fight using Tai Chi for money, he refuses but when he finds out his master's 600-year-old temple is going to be torn down (unless he can come up with a large amount of money to save it) he changes his mind. He quickly finds himself caught up in the money and glamorous lifestyle that he's rewarded by taking part in these no rules fights and falls more and more into moral depravity.

As just a bad Kung Fu B movie it works and the martial arts scenes are entertaining but there's something about the whole movie that just reeks in a somewhat painful way. Reeves is horrible as the film's villain, giving one of his most laughably bad performances to date, and it doesn't help at all that he has to rely on himself as a director. The fight scenes are well done (to a certain extent) but other than that the film is not an impressive directing debut for Reeves. Many directors have a rough first start though (especially the actor turned director kind) so film fans should give Reeves a little more time to prove himself as a filmmaker but this movie is mostly just a misfire.

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my notes
FeastMode24 June 2019
Awesome fight scenes. pretty good overall story. different from traditional martial arts movies (1 viewing)
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A tai chi view
chaos-rampant5 September 2013
What sets tai chi apart from most martial arts where you just have the drilling on moves, is that it is directly modeled on a few cool and simple insights about how the world is put together. This doesn't make it superior craft, nor some mystical art though teachers will often advertise it as both. But tai chi brings mind to the fore of the practice in a way that other arts won't do.

Best exemplified in the tui shou or 'pushing hands' exercise, in the film this is the scene where, touching hands, master and pupil lightly push and yield to a circular flow, tai chi is first and foremost a cultivated awareness, to the extent that it is a Taoist art and not any other kung fu. With it come all the other stuff, the harmony, the equanimity and joy.

So, ideally, a good tai chi film works from the principles in a cinematic way; the principles are cinematic as hell to begin with since they're originally a matter of embodied vision. It could be as simply done as a romance between a man and a woman. Kar Wai is close to this. Ang Lee tried.

But let's see what Reeves is trying to do.

A Matrix of sorts about spiritual awakening. Reeves as the director of a film- within, a cruel Architect, manipulates the circumstances that cause a well-meaning student of martial arts to stray into pride and violence. The student is constantly filmed in private fights for the amusement of hidden paying viewers, us. Film as illusion. Illusion as self, and that as habitual anger and desire. The cycle of violence as broader—mental— life. All meant of course in their Buddhist context.

All valid from the Buddhist view. All sophomoric to see. All, precisely because of that, fail to convince they are not some archaic pose and fail to illustrate the everyday vitality of the meditative mind. Worse yet, they're used to opposite effect: the noble master, the flowing clothes and formalities on emptiness, all go to reinforce a cultural image, condensing an illusion as tool for shaping some national self.

This isn't alone a Western filmmaker's failure, though Reeves signed up for it. It's a Chinese tradition, and this is blatantly a government- stamped project; in the end, business execs who wanted to demolish the old temple and our tai chi fighter and his 'pure' girlfriend are brought together under the old master's approving, fatherly glance. Cheap, because it reeks of an imposed understanding. Silky robes to dress a sloppy body.

Something else though.

I was drawn to the film, beside the tai chi, because of supposedly a super-advanced robotic camera system that Reeves would be using. It was a promotional video of the thing in action that wet my palate, where it looked awesome, something from the future of making films. Oddly, in the film it is an American who corrupts with his show the young Chinese pupil, yet state-of-the-art American equipment and of course the American action language were asked for the film. Ho-hum.

So I was on the lookout for this system in action. The verdict? It fails. As absolutely as the first aeroplanes. Either because Reeves hasn't mastered the machine, or the programmers the art, we get simply nondescript mechanical movements. At any rate, you wouldn't know it was that thing from the promo. Which is the most revealing thing in the whole enterprise and brings us back to tai chi.

In other posts I stress the important continuity between cultivated perception, cinema and life, which are both fields of that cultivation, looking for a more intuitive that we can bring to anything we do. You can cultivate such in dancing, skiing or surfing or love, anything that requires coasting on the flow. Tai chi and meditation simply offer some pretty refined tools from centuries of directed practice, always with both eyes fixed on ordinary life.

Chinese Zen masters would famously perform calligraphy and other more mundane acts with a meditative mind, embodying the insights. Tai chi likewise embodies Taoist stuff, looks for it in the body. How would it be to bring this to the camera? To use it to paint a state of mind that is not separate from what's before the eyes. Not just film there, but your perception tending to it, bending sight. A filmed space that has awareness of itself. Malick does it for my taste.

Here, the robotic camera is as mechanical as the handling of the insights. It just goes to illustrate the walls we've hit with regards to A.I. and science of mind. There's simply nothing we can built that is as intelligent as embodied human consciousness, each of us being a graceful marvel. The robotic camera pales to what human intuition can bring, the furthest thing from the beautiful awareness that tai chi enables.
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Keanu Reeves' Directional Debut Is An Old-School, Action-Packed & Expertly Choreographed Martial Arts Delight
CinemaClown7 March 2017
Keanu Reeves' directional debut is an expertly choreographed martial arts feature that will delight the genre fans with its old-school, action-packed premise but it also features a highly predictable plot, clichéd characters & near absence of genuine, believable emotions that ultimately prevents it from leaving a memorable imprint.

Man of Tai Chi tells the story of a young martial artist who is gifted in Tai Chi skills but is impatient & rebellious when it comes to the philosophical aspects of his style. Things are set in motion when he is invited to join a highly lucrative underworld fight club for easy money and eventually finds out the sinister intent behind its existence.

Directed by Keanu Reeves, the film marks his first stint behind the camera and he does a neat job at it, for his debut effort in the director's chair is simple, grounded, entertaining & well aware of its limitations. The action choreography is excellent & benefits a lot from its kinetic camera-work while all its events unfold at a brisk pace.

The story is lazily scripted, for it could've delved deeper into the world of illegal fighting operations & its equally perverse audience but refuses to look beneath the surface. The fight scenes are good yet they fail to stimulate on an emotional level. Performances are mediocre, at times laughable and the generic background score doesn't help either.

On an overall scale, Man of Tai Chi begins Keanu Reeves' directional career on a quiet note and is best enjoyed when expectations are thrown out the window. Reeves in a negative role is quite fun to watch despite his hollow, cringeworthy expressions while the movie as a whole chooses to stay within its confines by never aiming for a shot at greatness. In short, there is nothing special about it.
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Good .. Could Have Been Great
A_Different_Drummer10 August 2013
One of the most promising martial arts films in recent memory ultimately stumbles and falls, but remains moderately entertaining nonetheless. First, the notion of a lost, 600 year old school of "active" Tai Chi is brilliant, and could have led to a marvellous film. Unfortunately this is not that film. This film is flawed by uneven fight scenes (some excellent, some just silly) and a sudden U-turn about half-way through where the film becomes less about the art of fighting and more about the evil millionaire broadcasting fights on cable (a theme beaten to death in dozens of other films, unworthy of this premise, and starring a somewhat haggard looking-for-work Keaneau Reeves). The final fight scene is simply an embarrassment and one wonders where this would have gone with a better writer? >>>Great line of dialogue: >>>> (Bad guy getting arrested by pretty female cop) In my next life I'll be your boss >>>>(Female Cop as bad guy is dragged off in cuffs) Why not be my mother?
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Don't expect much of a story, and you'll find a decent time passer. The fights are what matter here
callanvass21 November 2013
I actually had an OK time with it. The storyline is very derivative. It's your typical "My master's place is getting shut down. I have to fight for money to get it back for him, and end up losing my way storyline" You've seen it all done plenty of times before. While the story won't resonate with anyone, it does just enough to grab your attention for just over 100 minutes or so, approximately. I highly doubt people that watch this movie are looking for riveting storytelling. Chances are you've come for the fights, and boy, do you get it. It's filled with many exciting fight scenes that don't get redundant or boring. I'll give Keanu credit as a director for making sure the fights stay lively. Tiger Hu Chen has some great intensity. I wouldn't necessarily call him a great actor, but he certainly holds his own in that department. He carries a heavy load in the second half of the film as his characters transforms into a beast that is unleashed. It's filled with emotion and anger. I felt Tiger did a decent job at it. As far as his fighting skills are concerned, he wows with his move set. There was always something new and exciting in his arsenal. He did well in my mind. Keanu Reeves is sadly a different story. I actually like Keanu. He'll never be considered among the great actors, but I always admired him for making it to the top of the business, in spite of what others think. He gets some vehement hate from people and it's unwarranted. He is awful here and seems to be phoning it in at times. Perhaps he was distracted due to his directing duties, but he was awful. His stoic facial expressions were laughable. He's always been rather stoic, but it was too much in this one. I got bored quickly of his blasé approach and his "Does it matter?" attitude. If I can give him one compliment, it's his fighting skills. He is Neo after all.

Final Thoughts: It's not gonna resonate long term, but if you're an action or martial arts fan like I am, this will do the job. The fights are so good that it makes you forget the rather unremarkable plot. It's not bad

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Keanu Break Out Movie
tabuno16 January 2019
7 August 2014. Surprisingly, Reeve's directorial debut is polished, lavish, and emotional pungent. I'm reminded of the emotional moral thread from Chronicles of Naria (2005). Unlike many martial arts movie that focus on a stereotypical two dimensional good versus bad plot where the protagonist is pure of heart and led to suffer to seek revenge evil, Reeve's is given the opportunity to play against type using his Matrix persona fighting skills and employing an evolving storyline that is much more layered like a Chinese box within a box. While the ending might have been less simplified and American cleansed, this movie exhibits a maturity, a clear quality of photography, a contemporary-themed and beautiful Chinese music.
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The China's underworld fighting club.
Reno-Rangan24 April 2014
Directional debut for Keanu Reeves which was partially based on stuntman Tiger Chen's life story. Since the story was inspired by a Chinese character, the movie was co-produced by Hollywood and China in Cantonese and Mandarin languages with a little English. Keanu Reeves appeared in a negative role and his friend Tiger Chen as himself.

As the Keanu Reeves's first movie as a captain it is evident that he had faced tough challenges to capture in some of the scenes. Clearly the fight choreographies were the best parts of the movie. Since his friend Tiger Chen is a stuntman they had no troubles in those areas. Those who love martial arts will like this movie for its awesome stunt sequences. Drama portions were little sloppy, due to the similar fashion storyline that already we had seen in some of the earlier releases.

It is not a finest martial art movie of the year, but fights were the movie's highlight. I can't appreciate Keanu Reeves direction, but somehow he handled everything nicely from this movie being a junk. He's a good actor than a director, though he may improve in his next project, but I don't know.

I expected this movie to be fast paced, exciting one, but what I got was opposite. The reason was the story of individual character did not fit into as a single movie. For example, Tiger Chen's master and his story, Hong Kong Police and their criminal chase, all these looked a bit weird together. Removing commercial elements could have made it a better movie.

This is not the first time a western director flew to the east to make a movie. It has been done many times in the past in movies like 'The Last Samurai', 'Kundun' and the recent one '47 Ronin' et cetera. So no wonder Keanu Reeves made this with his best friend Tiger Chen. The question is, is this movie worth to have a peek? I would say it was not the best nor the worst.

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Average Kung Fu movie! 4/10
leonblackwood19 July 2014
Review: Keanu Reeves really tried to make an authentic oriental movie with the mixture of English and subtitles, but the leading character didn't really have that much screen charisma and Keanu Reeves didn't really play a baddie that well. Basically Keanu Reeves is the head of an underground Fight Club and he decides to take on a delivery boy because of his fight skills. After making some money, the boy decides that he wants to leave the fighting game but Reeves doesn't want to lose his prize fighter. The whole concept was a bit weak and the acting by the cast was pretty terrible. Some of the fighting scenes wasn't that bad but it's the leading character that really let's the movie down. All the way through the movie he has this dead look on his face which lacks emotion. I lost the plot at the end when the big showdown was underway and then it all came to a Holt after that one move. Maybe it was the inner "Chi". Anyway, it's a very average movie that's watchable but nothing that amazing. Average!

Round-Up: This really didn't seem like a movie from Keanu Reeves because of his inverted style of acting and personal life. I'm surprised that he chose to play the flashy underworld fight club boss after playing the hero in so many of his latter movies like the Matrix and The Day The Earth Stood Still. It's good to see that he still has some of his karate skills which he picked up from the Matrix, but I think that he should try and use them in the American movies because his transformation into the oriental world isn't working too well. I'll give him some props for trying though. With all this aside, I honestly think that it was his chose of actors that really let this movie down, and the script could have done with a little work. I honestly wasn't expecting that much from this movie as I hadn't heard that much about it, so I wasn't totally disappointed.

Budget: $25million Worldwide Gross: $5.5million (Terrible!)

I recommend this movie to people who are into there oriental Kung Fu movies about a delivery man who becomes big in the underground fighting game. 4/10
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Martial arts feast with a somber tone
Vartiainen15 June 2014
Keanu Reeves's directorial debut doesn't disappoint. Revolving around martial arts philosophy, lots of fight sequences and parallels to the problems of modern day China, Man of Tai Chi is a film that impresses on multiple levels.

No one can claim that Reeves played it safe with this film. Starting from the decision to tell a fictionalized life story of his friend/fight choreographer Tiger Chen, with the man basically playing himself. Certainly an unorthodox method, which could have brought the whole movie down, but luckily Chen is comfortable enough in front of the camera to breath life into the story. You can certainly see a certain stiltedness in his acting, but because his character has been written to be a reserved man, it blends in rather well.

Furthermore, the film has very high production values. Reeves's storytelling is strong and he certainly understands how fight scenes should be filmed, which ends up meaning that the whole movie is a lot of fun to watch if you're into its genre. Yet the mood and atmosphere are more serious and darker than is the norm for martial arts films. Which isn't a bad thing at all, because the story fits the tone. Chen has to face difficult choices and nothing is just handed to him. Perhaps the darker tone ends up losing some of the charm that's usually associated with these movies, but I think there's room enough in the genre for this kind of take as well.

Man of Tai Chi will impress you with its aesthetics and fighting and with its strong vision. The characters, the acting and the story are strong enough to maintain your interest and if you're a fan of the genre, this one is definitely worth checking out.
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A decent and ambitious directorial debut from Keanu Reeves
estebangonzalez1018 December 2013
"No rules. No mercy. Pure fighting."

Finally a tagline that's actually true to a film! It defines pretty well what Keanu Reeve's directorial debut film is all about: fighting. Reeves proves that he isn't just a martial arts fan, but he knows the genre really well and has successfully incorporated it to his film. It is a flawed film with a rather predictable story, but the choreographed fighting scenes are great and plentiful. I enjoy martial art films although I don't consider myself a huge fan of the genre and for the most part I find films that focus entirely on the action a little boring and dull, but it wasn't the case with Man of Tai Chi. Despite being purely an action film I had a great time with it because the scenes were really well choreographed (Yuen Woo Ping, who is mostly known for his work in Kill Bill, receives the credit for this as the action director) and Tiger Chen does an amazing job in the lead role. The cinematography was also pretty strong and everything about Man of Tai Chi looked great. Despite its predictable and generic story I had a great time with this film and was entertained. It's hard to say anything about the script, written by Michael Cooney, because there is more fighting than actual dialogue here. I do wish Reeves explored a little more some of the themes he introduced such as voyeurism and the conflict of selling out that the lead character experiences. I think fans of the genre will enjoy this film because it's highly entertaining and satisfying.

The story centers on Tiger Chen (Tiger Hu Chen), one of Tai Chi Master Yang's (Hai Yu) last students. During the day he works as a delivery man, but he makes time to train and meditate in the early mornings. Tai Chi is more of an inner exercise, it isn't typically used for fighting, but Tiger Chen wants to prove that it is and therefor signs up for a martial arts tournament. Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) is a businessman who runs an illegal underground fighting club that Hong Kong Police Officer Sun Jingshi (Karen Mok) is desperately trying to seek and shut down. When Donaka discovers Tiger Chen in the martial arts tournament he sets up an interview for him to enter his underground fighting club. When Tiger Chen discovers that the temple where he trains is going to be demolished for modern urbanization, he accepts to work for Donaka to come up with the money to pay for the temple's needs. Tiger Chen is introduced into a dark and dangerous world that slowly begins to change him. He doesn't realize that his every move is being followed by a select group of fans through Donaka's voyeuristic enterprise.

Tiger Chen proves in Man of Tai Chi that he is a talented action star. He shines in his role and the choreographed fighting scenes are entertaining. Keanu Reeves gives a strange performance as the villain. His expressions are empty and looks stiff most of the time, but I think he was purposefully doing so to give his character a mysterious vibe. I can see how it could've displeased most people, but it worked for me, and the final face off scene between him and Tiger Chen was great. I did have some issues with the final third act which seemed like it was trying to extend the movie a bit. Overall this generic martial arts film still works thanks to the great choreographed action scenes, and strong cinematography and editing despite its weak plot.
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Stylish, but empty debut for Reeves
Fluke_Skywalker10 February 2014
Like many first time directors, Keanu Reeves often resorts to the crutch of visual flair to compensate for a lack of storytelling confidence. It doesn't help that he's working with a lousy script, a paper-thin premise and a charisma-challenged cast (including mis-casting himself as the villain). That it *almost* works is something of a miracle.

The fight scenes are impressive, and in this day and age of whiplash editing I appreciated that Reeves and his "action director" Yuen Woo-Ping (who, I assume, is primarily responsible for the action sequences) pulled the camera back and actually let us see the fight, letting the awesome talents of the performers build the excitement rather than the editing. Alas, many of the fights are over-stylized and so detached from reality that they ultimately feel inconsequential and begin to numb the mind. Not unlike watching someone else play a video game.

With a little more polish, 'Man of Tai Chi' might have been something. The same can be said about its director, and I look forward to his next effort to see if he's learned anything from this experience.
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ka Ka-tet Kef
yusufpiskin9 August 2020
This is, in my opinion, a perfect martial arts movie. The structure is familiar but effective: the main character has well established internal and external goals (controlling his chi and stopping the bad man from messing with his life, respectively), and he works to accomplish these goals in a logical way. The supporting cast is likable but stays out of the way. Additionally, I appreciated how the movie implies that most of the other fighters are in a similar situation as our main character, giving a lot more weight to some fights that could, in another movie, come off as meaningless. The "soft-tournament" arrangement of the fights is serviceable, and is helped by the fact that all the fights are technically perfect (or as close to perfect as you could ever want). This is both an incredible debut for Keanu Reeves as a director, as well as a strong introduction for Tiger Chen as a leading man.

My only criticisms are a few questionable establishing transitions, as well as some visible focus breathing in certain shots with dramatic pulls, but these are hardly major issues. Additionally, the idea of using tai chi to fight is fairly silly, but the movie acknowledges this and handles it fairly well. The main character's technique becomes less traditional as his chi begins controlling him, turning this odd choice of style into a cinematic idea.

All the conventions here are familiar, but perfectly executed. This is what the genre has been building up to for 50 years.
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Excellent Fighter but Limited Actor
3xHCCH13 July 2013
The titular "Man of Tai Chi" refers to Tiger Chen, a dutiful son and student who wanted to show the world that the martial art form of Tai Chi is not simply for show, but also for combat. When ruthless underground fight club promoter Keanu Reeves witnesses Tiger's innocence behind his awesome skills, he knew he had the perfect star for his evil show -- someone ripe for corruption into the dark side.

This film is as much about the philosophy of Tai Chi as it was about the exciting fight scenes. The story had promise. Unfortunately, this film had many negatives that weigh it down.

The main protagonist Tiger Chen simply did not have enough charisma for the big screen. He comes alive only during the fight scenes, which were very good. But in every other scene though, he does not. He only had one expression on his face, the one with knit eyebrows. They just knit a little tighter together to denote his evil phase.

I was really surprised to see Keanu Reeves associated with this type of film, and that he chose this genre to be his directorial debut. As director, his execution of the story is OK, considering that this film was tri-lingual. But overall, it was only basic, not that impressive. As actor, he was one-note and dull as the antagonist. His climactic fight scene was rightfully exciting, but Keanu himself looked awkward, especially his kicks.

All I can say is that this could have been a much better film if the casting of the lead was better. But I guess it would not be easy to find an excellent tai chi fighter, who looked good on screen, and acted well. Well, as things go in the movie business, they can always remake this film when they do find such a man.
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Strong and deep action movie
TdSmth527 July 2014
Two guys are fighting martial arts, one of them is defeated. A voice is heard telling the victor to "kill him". He doesn't. A guy in a mask shows up and kills the loser. In the locker room we learn that the masked guy is Keanu and he now approaches the winner and kills him. Turns out that this guy was a police informant and now that he's dead, the police commissioner shuts down the investigation into some underground fighting ring. But the female detective in charge of the investigation keeps digging.

A guy named Tiger, who is the last student of some form of Tai Chi, practices with his master at a remote temple. He enters a formal, rule-based sports competition and does fairly well despite being mocked for practicing Tai Chi which isn't a fighting discipline. Tiger catches the attention of Keanu. So he has his people approach Tiger and take him to Hong Kong for a job interview with Keanu. The job is to fight. If he wins he gets cash, if he loses he dies. The only rule is that there are no rules. At first Tiger isn't sure, but when the authorities threaten to flatten the temple unless costly safety improvements are made, he is forced to accept. It also allows him an alternative to his exploitative work delivering packages.

The fights take place in some carpeted rectangular room with a large mirror at one end. Tiger has to fight guys with a variety of fighting styles. He also does well, earns lots of money that allows him and his family to live better. So he keeps training with his master, fighting for competition, and fighting for cash. But he's also getting more enraged. At the final competition match he ends up breaking the opponents leg and that gets him disqualified. When he goes to train, he confronts his master. He is more powerful than the master, but as the master says, power isn't control. That's when the master finally defeats him not by touching him but by manipulating Chi.

The fights become more flashy and difficult. Tiger is made to fight two guys at the same time. But the detective is also getting closer to Keanu. When, Tiger is ordered to kill the defeated opponent, he refuses and the police break up the operation. Keanu escapes but later shows up to claim the life that Tiger owes him. Tiger's final fight is against Keanu, as expected.

Man of Tai Chi is an interesting and unusual action movie. It is more profound than most of them, but the important lines are lost among lots of cliché lines and aren't handled well enough to stand out as they should. Tiger comes to his own only once he internalizes the idea that "I am nothing." Keanu also points out the key to entertainment--what people want to see is the loss of innocence. The Ying-Yang is prominently featured in this movie. And as the master points out at the end, the modern and the traditional can coexist. And this movie is such coexistence. The world of Keanu's character is modern, flashy, with fancy cars, the world of power. The world of Tiger is the old fashioned one, the one of (self) control. But the message here is not that one is better than the other but to find a balance. The end credits scene is a panoramic shot of a seemingly poor area of a city with large housing complexes, perhaps what happens when there isn't a balance.

With a movie like this of course it's the fights that attract the audience. And there's plenty of them. Too many I would say, so that the story becomes almost secondary. But the fights are entertaining. They aren't very long and feature neat wire-work. Not the usual flying across buildings type, but rather close quarter wire-work in mano-a-mano fights--flips, unlikely rotations, etc. Our hero, Tiger is a rather tiny guy with an awful haircut but still manages to defeat large muscular guys, sometimes on the basis of punches no less. It's always good to see Keanu, even as a role of villain, and he's a mean fighter. Not a good idea to make Keanu the villain because you root for him no matter what.

Man of Tai Chi is strong martial arts movie with a message buried beneath lots of cool fights.
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Well done, Impressive and Entertaining
bob-rutzel-19 January 2014
Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves) runs an illegal Fight Club in Beijing, China. He recruits a promising fighter Tiger Chen (Chen Lin-Hu). Tiger's Tai Chi Master Yang (Hai Yu) doesn't want Tiger to fight and says Tai Chi is for balance and control of one's life and not for power. Tiger wants to fight. The police are after Donaka to shut down his illegal fighting games.

I know that the very name of Tiger will bring to mind the one you and the world know as Tiger, but that can't be helped. The name is mentioned a lot and we have to deal with it. You will come to see this Tiger is as good as that other Tiger but in his Tai Chi.

You may have seen seniors performing Tai Chi in some park somewhere and wondered what it was all about. It's for exercise, balance and control as mentioned. But, Tiger has found a way to make Tai Chi a Martial Art to the dismay of all others in the Martial Arts arena.

There will be sub-titles sprinkled about and they are in bold print, easy to see and short too. The acting performances by all the cast is excellent. We don't get that annoying dubbing sound we sometimes hear in those other Martial Arts movies.

I was relieved to see that this is not like all those other karate type movies where one guy takes on 20-fighters many, many times and you get weary watching all that. There are a lot of fights, but there is also a good story too. This is very well done. The fights are well choreographed and you will marvel at the execution. Yes, some CGI is in play at times, but not a distraction.

All in all very impressive and entertaining. Oh, Keanu Reeves directed this and he did a great job. Whoa!. Yeah, kept waiting for that (am I the only one?), but it seems Reeves has forgotten we like to hear it from him. Bummer. Whoa ! (7/10)

Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: No.
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