A martial arts films directed by Keanu Reeves. What might you expect?
Fortunately Man of Tai Chi offers more than that, with some well filmed fight scenes, some glorious scenery chewing and a simple but effective story.
As this is his directorial debut, it seems very wise of Reeves to not only stick to an area that he knows well, but also doesn’t try to take on too much. The story doesn’t ask too much of anyone involved (including the audience), until it gets to the fights. Though easily overlooked, the story does a good job of showing the continuing evolution of Tiger Chen. Can he come back from the dark place he finds himself in? I think you know the answer!
The battles are well staged and clearly show what is going on, something of a plus these days. You can make out the skill involved, though there is surprisingly little in the way of visible injury considering the hits that being dealt.
What you really want to see though, is the return of Neo! Bearing in mind that Reeves is nudging 50 he doesn’t disappoint. He clearly enjoys his role, hamming it up as he orders “Finish him!”.
A brief word of warning. Several scenes makes use of flashing lights. I could imagine some with epilepsy having issues with it. Something to bear in mind.
The overall style is very much classical for a martial arts film, and this sits well with the non-flashy cinematography. Reeves knows what he is going for and doesn’t mess around.
A solid debut, with some entertaining fights, a calm performance from Tiger Chen and a fun turn from Reeves; Man of Tai Chi would make for a decent Friday night movie.