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August 16, 2013

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

Review By: Rob Sibley

Tai Chi Hero is the sequel to the hugely successful martial arts/cyber punk epic "Tai Chi Zero". I enjoyed the first film but I thought it didn't push the boundaries enough. It was a zany film sure but it could have went further and could have fleshed out it's characters more. Lucky for us though Tai Chi Hero is a better film in every way imaginable.

Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan) is still trying to find his place in Chen Village, the legendary town where everyone is a martial arts master and Chen-style Tai Chi is forbidden to outsiders. But since he helped save the town from a steam powered machine, Yuniang (Angelababy), beautiful daughter of the Grandmaster Chen (Tony Leung), agrees to marry Lu Chan and bring him into the family. However, it's only a formality - she is the teacher and he is the student and that suits Lu Chan just fine, as the mutant horn on his head gives him incredible kung fu power but leaves him dumber and closer to death each time he uses it. Chen Village still stands in the shadow of danger. A prodigal brother returns, Lu Chan's presence invokes a curse on the town and Yuniang's scorned fiancee has an appetite for revenge, as well as some new partners in crime.

I was happily surprised by this little flick. The film itself is much more focused then the original film but just as much fun.Unlike the first film that could really care less about the characters and was all about the action, TCH focuses more on character while still presenting entertaining and over the top action. 

Stephen Fung returns once again as director and this time around it looks like he had a bigger budget to work with as well. One of my big peeves with the first flick was despite some brilliant action sequences it felt a bit chip. But with the increase in budget also means better CGI. The stand out being the use of Davinchi's flying machine which plays a big part in the second half of the picture. 

Yuan Xiaochao is back as Chan and this time he fares much better. His character in the first film was pretty much the village idiot. This time around he's more mature. At times he almost seems to be going for a Stephen Chow vibe ala Royal Tramp. 

But unlike the films of Stephen Chow such as Shaolin Soccor, Royal Tramp, Kung Fu Hustle. He was always able to handle the mixture of humor to action perfectly both as an actor and an director. Let's face it, with a lot of these martial arts pictures tone is often the problem. But for the most part this sequel keeps it's tounge firmly planted in it's cheek. Just when things are about to get really serious some much needed humor is injected. 

Also helping things out is the great Peter Stormare. Who hams it up big time and the films central villain. Also be on the look out for countless cameos from various HK stars. 

 So overall I'd have to say if you enjoyed the first film you will get a kick out of this one. If you didn't like the first one then give it a go anyway. It's one of the better films of it's ilk to come out recently. 

The Tai Chi series is meant to be part a trilogy and I am eagerly awaiting the next film. It's hard to say when we will actually see it since Stephen Fung is working on the remake of Van Damme's The Kickboxer and their are virtually no signs of a third film as of yet. 

Yet again we get another dynamite audio/video presentation from Well Go USA. The film is presented in it's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and looks absolutely marvelous. Skin tones are spot on, the blacks are deep and rich. Clarity and fine detail are very abundant. 

The lossless DTS 5.1 audio comes with two choices, either the original (preferred) Mandarin track or the English dub. Either way you go, you can't go wrong.

Now usually this is were I'd bust the chops of Well Go for lack of extra's. But the disk features a surpringly in-depth making of documentary. Clocking in at an hours length. It's incredible in depth. My only complaint is it's presented in 480i. Also included is the films American and original trailers. 

If you're a martial arts junkie give this a rent, if you loved the original then hell go out and buy this one. RECOMMENDED.

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