As an uncommonly gifted child, Yang Luchanhas a fleshy abnormality that holds tremendous power growing on his forehead.However, being teased as the town fool, Yang s mother spurs him to practice martial arts. Following her wishes, Yang travels across the land, finally arriving at Chen Village in hopes of learning Tai Chi. In this legendary community and center of power, everyone practices Tai Chi - using it in every aspect of their lives.However, it is forbidden for the villagers to share these secrets with an outsider. Yang learns this the hard way. Once he arrives, everyone challenges him to fights. From the strongest men to the women and children, he is engaged - and cruelly defeated by their masterful moves. After a particularly tough battle against Master Chen s beautiful daughter Yuniang, Yang is more determined than ever to master the art of Tai Chi...but he needs the Master's permission first. Little does Yang know, the poor strange man he befriended when he arrived at Chen Village is Master Chen - who recognizes Yang s genius but hides behind a disguise to secretly guide Yang to his own realization of Tai Chi. Soon after, a frightening steam-powered machine arrives at Chen Village, powered by Fang Zijing, a childhood friend of Yuniang. Fang has bribed and conspired with government officials to permit him to build a railway - one that runs right through the center of the village. Yang decides to join forces with Yuniang to defeat Fang and destroy the monstrous machine - a brave and dangerous act that might just win the hearts of the villagers...and the girl...
Behind the Zenes
TrailerZ Yasu, Chris Sabats version, and Teaser
Actor-turned-director Stephen Fung's Tai Chi Zero is a frenetic, genre-bending martial arts fantasy that tips its hat to Chinese action cinema of the past while taking a radical approach to its future via a torrent of references to video games, animation, American movies, and other pop culture ephemera. Olympic wushu champion Yuan Xiaochao is top-billed as Lu Chan, an impulsive kung fu prodigy who's loosely (make that very loosely) based on real-life tai chi teacher Yang Luchan. The movie's Lu Chan also sports a horn on his skull that, when pressed, substantially boosts his powers but also drains his energy (shown on-screen as a diminishing, Xbox-like icon). To control his talents and save his life, Lu Chan travels to the Chen village, where the inhabitants have mastered the art of tai chi. There, he is faced with not only the locals' reluctance to share their secrets, but a former resident (Eddie Peng) who threatens to bulldoze the village with a monstrous, steampunk-influenced machine to make way for the railroad and the 20th century. Lu Chan's fight to save the town is depicted in a meta-flurry of information à la Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: actors and their characters, as well as various fighting styles, are introduced by pop-up-styled titles, while the combat itself unfolds via rapid-eye editing and camera angles. Stylistic references to silent film, European westerns, and anime are also woven liberally throughout the picture, but the manic pace and deluge of visual information obscures not only the martial arts choreography by Hong Kong legend Sammo Hung, but also more affectionate touches like cameos by kung fu veterans Bruce Leung and Xiong Xin-Xin and Infernal Affairs director Andrew Lau. Tai Chi Zero's attention deficit disorder aesthetic even extends to its basic structure, with the picture ending abruptly, rewinding, and then previewing Fung's 3-D follow-up, Tai Chi Hero. Longtime Asian-action fans may find this much media overload ado over nothing, though the film's extraordinary popularity abroad indicates that its approach has found favor with newer audiences. --Paul Gaita
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