Writer: Lester Gan Wai LunWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
Five years in the making, Keanu Reeves finally makes his directional debut with a martial arts flick titled "Man Of Tai Chi". Alongside Tiger Chen (the stuntman in the "Matrix" trilogy) as the film's action director and main star, it is doubtless that this film will pack a punch in terms of the action but will Reeves' inexperience as director stand in its way from becoming a mega blockbuster hit? Unfortunately, that does seem to be the case as the combo of Reeves and Chen is clearly that of a double-edged sword variety.
Tiger Chen plays himself, a stubborn Tai Chi student training under a noble grandmaster who constantly warns him that, in order to find oneself, he must first be able to control his 'chi'. With a burning desire to fight and to prove to the world that Tai Chi isn't just for show, Chen joins a televised martial arts competition. It is on that televised competition where Chen gets scouted and manipulated into joining an underground "kill or be killed" network.
While Chen's character comes alive during the fight scenes, one couldn't care less about the actual character itself as Chen's monotone performance fails to make a connection with the audience. The lack of emotion, passion and expression from the inexperienced actor takes a toll towards the end of the film as moviegoers can't help but to feel disengaged and bored even as the final fight scene takes place.
This bilingual film also sees big names from Chinese cinema such as Karen Mok and Simon Yam, although their involvement in the film seems like a ploy to gain an audience in the east as Simon Yam barely had any screen time at all.
Reeves made a mistake by directing a martial arts competition instead of developing an amazing story revolving around the history of Tai Chi. A story about a noble grandmaster would be leaps and bounds better than what has been made here and would even make the title a better fitting one. Directing a film isn't as easy as acting in one, and sadly Reeves had to learn it the hard way. However with that said, it is no doubt that this film will still be making a healthy dose of profit despite its weak plot and terrible execution.
All in all, this is not a film to be remembered. Just as you were as eager to watch this film, you will be as eager to leave your seats as well. Let's hope Reeves has learnt from his mistakes and will come up with a better film next time. "Man Of Tai Chi" is more like "Man, waste my money".Cinema Online, 16 July 2013