Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with this spectacular martial-arts epic starring former Matrix stuntman Tiger Chen and featuring fight choreography by the legendary Yuen Woo-ping.
Man of Tai Chi
A bone-crunching, high-flying, supercharged saga of self-realization through martial arts, Man of Tai Chi follows a quiet delivery man recruited to take part in illegal, no-holds-barred fights, where financial rewards can be dizzyingly high — often at the cost of one's soul. The directorial debut of iconic actor Keanu Reeves speaks to his rigour, sensitivity to process, and willingness to learn from the many great filmmakers with whom he's collaborated.
Linhu (Tiger Chen) lives in a Beijing tenement block. When not working, he studies English and practices a form of tai chi called Ling Kong, which means "Empty your spirit." Everything changes when Linhu receives an offer from a mysterious businessman, Donaka Mark (Reeves), to compete in an underground fight club.
Initially Linhu turns Donaka down, until he realizes how his earnings could rescue his tai chi master's dilapidated temple from being demolished. But success as a fighter — fuelled by his deeply traditional, disciplined mode of martial art — brings out a savage side in Linhu. The film's real battle becomes an internal one, between Linhu's pacifist principles and his violent impulses.
It's hard to imagine a better vehicle for
Reeves' directorial ambitions. As his screen
persona shifted from awestruck youth to
action hero, an undercurrent of spiritual
searching evolved. This was nowhere more
apparent than in The Matrix, which was
as much a parable about struggling with
age-old existential questions as it was a
mind-blowing science-fiction spectacle.
The Matrix was also where Reeves met
legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wooping
and stuntman-turned-star Chen. Man
of Tai Chi reunites these three, showcasing
their established skills while posing each
with considerable challenges. See this
dazzling and thoughtful film, and you will
understand just how brilliantly those challenges
have been met.