Watching the trailer for Man Of Tai Chi, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a new chapter in the Matrix saga. Of course, the Wachowski’s epic was heavily influenced by martial arts movies and now, with his directorial debut, Keanu Reeves is making a martial arts movie with hints of the Wachowski’s cinematic aesthetic.
Just as with The Matrix, Man Of Tai Chi features dimly lit cityscapes, stark monochrome visuals, spectacular fight choreography and stars Reeves dressed all in black. The story sees Tiger Chen as the titular ‘man’ who, in a bid to protect his temple threatened by redevelopment, takes part in a secret underground fighting ring run by powerful Hong Kong businessman Donaka (Reeves). Yet whilst Tiger begins committed to the purity of Tai Chi, the competition brings out his darker side and he’s soon embroiled in a plot to bring down Donaka’s fighting ring from the inside.
The plot may not win any awards, but it’s clear that the fighting will be spectacular – brutal yet performed with dance-like precision. Choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill), it brings both the hard and the soft sides of Tai Chi in balanced union. At the least, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how Reeves performs both in front and behind the camera.
Man Of Tai Chi will be released later this year.
By Ed Nightingale