Tai Chi Zero
Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne are back, but darker and edgier!
A festive feast of visual excess that leaves you unsatisfied and full of regret, Tai Chi Zero is that mirage in the desert that looks good, but is nothing but sand when you get up close. The fun graphics and video game inspired editing are polish over a generic and predictable plot that doesn’t even do us the favor of trying to be creative. All the enthusiasm and cool effects are wasted, and that just makes me mad!
Now, I love cool looking visuals and razzmatazz editing. But you need something beneath that that’s just as creative. When the story is essentially something that has been done to death a thousand times, often more creatively, it’s just not exciting. The cast, the look, the effects, the wasted potential.
Chef Emeril Lagasse?
The main hero’s arc tale is set against a conflict that is essentially the modern West vs. the traditional East. Of course, tradition and kung fu wins out over technology and guns. One of the ways to get your film easily approved by Chinese censors is to make it about how awesome China is, so a lot like this is an easy pass. Creative films use that “China rules!” setting to say other things that censors are too dull to pick up on. Instead, Tai Chi Zero has characters saying how technology is bad in scenes with video game graphics and editing. It’s almost as if there is something else being said, but there isn’t. This expectation and disappointment exposes Tai Chi Zero as nothing more than a mannequin that can’t talk or move, but sure is wearing a pretty dress in the store display window. But it has encouraged me to go find some real people in real clothes, aka good movies. The East vs. West thing is even more hilarious because I can literally walk to the high school producer Daniel Wu went to school at here in America.
It’s the cover of one of those cheap shot on video horror films!
The action scenes I have little complaint with. The diagrams and arrows while the characters go through their stances were neat touches, and Sammo Hung and Andy Cheng Kai-Chung know what they’re doing to make things looks cool. The video game stylizing is incorporated into the choreography, which makes many scenes look like they are straight from a fighting arcade game. When each cast member first shows up, there are character cards for each of them as well as a brief one sentence bio. Besides looking cool, the biographies are good for beginners to Hong Kong/Chinese cinema, and good for those of us who don’t keep up with wushu stars who are making their first appearance in film.
SURRENDER HUMANS! TODAY THE MACHINES RISE!
Tai Chi Zero‘s tale is your normal hero’s arc story. Yang Lu Chan is The Freak, born with a super rare skin tag on his forehead which means he has super kung fu powers. Which is good, because he doesn’t have super brain powers. Discovered at a young age by a master, Yang Lu Chan is trained as a warrior and becomes his greatest fighter in the battles that come. But a chance encounter with Master Dong clues Yang Lu Chan in that his kung fu skills will prematurely kill him unless he learns negative kung fu, which is only taught in Chen Village, and then not to outsiders.
I hate it when my steam-powered superweapon is infested with lady ninjas!t