'TAI CHI ZERO'
'Tai Chi Zero' amuses with style and quirk
By Suzie Setzler and Krysti Peacock
Tai Chi Zero is a martial arts film that takes a tremendous amount of elements from Edgar Wright’s ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ and utilizes the mad skills of Jackie Chan’s longtime collaborator, Sammo Hung, to deliver a film that is so unique in its delivery, we struggle to even find the words to explain it. With an unusual musical score, brief interludes of comiclike cartoon snippets and a distinct video game overtone, the film is by far, quirky, funny, odd and, we suppose in the end, entertaining.
Set in the early 1900s, the movie is about a man named Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan) who is born with a horn on his head. When that horn is pushed, it unleashes a fury of energy and masterful power that allows the recipient to conquer his enemies, but not without draining his life force. A doctor advises Lu Chan to go to Chen village to learn a more specialized style of fighting in hopes of directing the energy within him, properly.
But upon entering the remote village, he quickly learns that collectively, the inhabitants are not so sympathetic to his predicament and unwilling to teach him their ways. And yet, at the same time, war is imminent as British forces, with the help of their steam punk-like creation — a huge chunk of metal machinery that’s able to lay down railroad tracks in minutes — approaches their town. At this point, things get a little convoluted, but in a nutshell, we’ll spell it out for you. The daughter of the Master of the Chen martial arts, Yuniang (Angelbaby) is in love with Fang Zijing (Eddie Peng), a Chinese co-conspirator helping spearhead the British plans of colonialism. However, she learns that Zijing is in love with his British accomplice (Mandy Lieu), who speaks horrible English. There is a bitter love triangle that perpetuates the village to stop the massive machine from tearing through their village, which eventually requires the help of Lu Chan and more or less, fighting. And more fighting. And some unusual fighting with fruits and vegetables. And possibly a marriage, somewhere in there. To say that we didn’t laugh out loud towards the end is an understatement.
Though we fought the stylistic ways of this storytelling tooth and nail, we eventually succumbed and enjoyed it. Not to mention, the not-so-subtle inclusion of future scenes from Tai Chi Hero. This film isn’t so much about dialogue and acting as it is about presenting its tale visually.
Director: Stephen Fung
Genres: Action, Comedy
Rated PG-13 for violence and action throughout
Running Time: 94 minutes in English and Mandarin with subtitles