Starring: Keanu Reeves, Karen Mok, Tiger Hu Chen, Simon Yam
Directed by: Keanu Reeves
Written by: Michael G. Cooney
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 45 min
Well look what we have here, Keanu Reeves, having spent a great number of years in front of the camera, decides it’s time to direct. Keanu haters hoping for calamitous results will likely feel disappointed, because while Man of Tai Chi is far from perfect, it certainly isn’t the worst directorial début I’ve ever seen.
The story isn’t new, as we follow a young Tai Chi student as he’s corrupted into illegal underground fighting, while also battling with some inner turmoil between the concepts of power and control. Which to be quite honest, never ended up interesting me all that much. Maybe it was due to Keanu’s distracting performance as the fight puppet master, or just how predictable the story was, but mainly I think any emotional core to this film was stunted by Keanu’s directing style.
Not that it’s all that bad, but the uber-efficient manner he cut through each scene, and then from scene to scene didn’t really allow for any emotional core to develop. It did though make for some interesting flight sequences, and a couple of interesting ideas. One that comes to mind is when Chen Lin-Hu (Tiger Hu Chen) angrily marches towards our camera, and bats it out of the way. Not so must breaking the fourth wall, but actually knocking it out!
The fight sequences are well choreographed, and I was happy to note the minimal use of wire work. The camera also never stops moving around during these sequences, and the editing thankfully allows the martial artists to show off their considerable skills.
This moves along very quickly, and the way it moves through each scene can be a little disorientating if you’re not paying attention. If you’re into martial arts movies, I think you’ll get some enjoyment out of this. If you’re looking for more that cool martial arts action, then I don’t think this is the movie for you.
There are some nice visual touches here and there, but this film is served well enough in HD on a TV, Laptop or tablet.
Thankfully the best element in this martial arts movie was the martial arts.