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January 29, 2013

Movie Review: Tai Chi Zero (2012, Blu-ray)

Reviewed by Rob Sibley

“Tai Chi: Zero” is a film I’ve been looking forward to checking out for sometime. The mixture of crazy wire-fu martial arts with steam punk sounded like a fun mash up of genre’s. Having watched the film, I can say the trailers marketed the film very well. What you see is what you get and in this case that’s a very good thing.
Directed by Stephen Fung mostly known as an actor for the fun Gen X cops or to a lesser extent Gen-Y cops, is a solid and accomplished director as well. Having helmed the over the top kung-fu comedy House of Fury. One does get the impression watching this though that Mr. Fung tries a bit to hard in the humor department. You can tell the man idolizes the work of the great Stephen Chow and I wouldn’t be surprised if Chow’s modern day classic “Kung Fu Hustle” played a bit of an inspiration on this bad boy.
Now the plot… if you can call it that concerns a young man Yang Lu Chan, played by new comer to the HK action scene Yuan Xiaochao. Yang travels to a little village called Chen Village to learn a new type of Tai Chi. Only problem, they don’t teach outsiders and Yang definitely sticks out. Luckily for him and unlucky for the villagers, a group of steam punk soldiers descend upon the town and then the madness begins.
This movie is bat shit crazy, if you took Avatar: The Last Airbender (The anime, not the piece of shit M. Knight film) and mixed in some Scott Pilgram Vs. The World you will get the style this film is going for. Mostly it pulls everything off, it’s not meant to be taken seriously. Sure you get a poorly done romantic sub-plot… what’s up with bad romantic interludes in HK films? Serious folks, give it up. Fans are plopping down movies to see fist-a-cuffs not some lovey dovie romance straight out of a bad Hong Kong costume drama.
That aside how can you not love a film that has such an outstanding cast and crazy premise? Even the great Peter Stormare pops up and hams things up. We also get very cool little cameos from the lovely Shui Qi (Transporter, So Close), Daniel Woo (Man with the iron fists) and even the almighty director/actor Andrew Lau shows up for a bit which will delight Hong Kong film fans.
The steam punk elements are handled well, visually speaking think Wild Wild West. No worries though this is a better film then the the trash that was that Will Smith film.
But the story is messy enough and the comedy does fall flat enough that I recommend that you rent this one and see if you like it enough to buy it. The action is great but I’m not sure how this would fair as far as re-watch value go.
This is part 1 of a planned trilogy so fans of this picture rejoice because more kung-fu steam punk madness will be heading towards a screen near you soon. Recommended.

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