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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winning Combination of Fights & Comedy Make TAI CHI ZERO Much More Than A Zero!
Those who've followed my reviews over the years (and, yes, there are a good many of you) know just how fond I am of foreign films. Not so much the European releases. While they've had some nice flicks, I get much for bang for my buck from the Japanese, Korean and Chinese releases. I tend to find them more relatable in many ways, far more interesting with respect to...
Published 19 months ago by E. Lee Zimmerman

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Left scratching my head
Seems to be part of a trilogy - maybe as part of 3 movies it will seem better.

The story itself left me scratching my head - just seems to run in confusing rambling directions. I loved Kung Fu Hustle - great humor, fight scenes, twists of who the main characters are. I don't want to go in detail (don't care to ruin anything story wise).

Some...
Published 19 months ago by Gary Hall


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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winning Combination of Fights & Comedy Make TAI CHI ZERO Much More Than A Zero!, January 3, 2013
This review is from: Tai Chi Zero [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Those who've followed my reviews over the years (and, yes, there are a good many of you) know just how fond I am of foreign films. Not so much the European releases. While they've had some nice flicks, I get much for bang for my buck from the Japanese, Korean and Chinese releases. I tend to find them more relatable in many ways, far more interesting with respect to depiction of their cultural norms and attitudes, and modestly reverential of their national history. Plus - as I've said many times - they're rawer than many similarly-themed American releases because they aren't bogged down by the politics and shenanigans of the U.S. studio system.

However, some of that's clearly started to change. In the last few years, I've noticed more and more of the pictures coming out of China, in particular, starting to have that `big budget' feel. What tends to happen in films of this sort is that there's clearly less emphasis on storytelling and increased focus on stories that require bigger and bolder set pieces, finer and more intricate special effects. Sometimes, this increased focus works to the detriment of the picture as a whole, as I think it did with films like DETECTIVE DEE or CONFUCIUS. But when it's managed properly, the end result is a piece of entertainment the likes of which TAI CHI ZERO represents.

(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers solely necessary for the discussion of plot and characters. If you're the kind of reader who prefers to read a review entirely spoiler-free, then I'd encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting to hints of `things to come,' then read on ...)

Since birth, Yang Lu Chan (played by Yuan Xiaochao) has been plagued by a wart-like growth from the right side of his forehead. What looks like a birth defect is actually a secret weapon that allows him - when it's tapped - to tap into some deep-seated talent to mimic any martial arts display he's witnessed. This gift from nature does not come without consequence for, unless he can master the arts of the force inside him, he will die young from the advanced strain on his body. A shaman suggests he travel to the distant Chen Village where, if he can learn the art of Tai Chi, he might just find balance. The problem with that solution is that their villagers refuse to teach any outsiders ... but before all is over, Lu Chan will have gained the trust and confidence of Chen Yunia (played by pop star Angelbaby), and he learns there just might be no cure for the troubles which ail him.

Stephen Fung has an impressive resume as a director, actor, and writer, and what he's well on the way to accomplishing with TAI CHI ZERO (warning: this is only the first part in a planned trilogy, and, yes, it does end on a cliffhanger) is nothing short of amazing. Stylistically, ZERO's all over the map - is it a comedy? Is it a drama? If it's a little of both, what are we to take seriously? - but, for the most part, it succeeds despite a heavy emphasis on some questionable use of split-screen storytelling and slow-motion wire-fu sequences that probably add twenty minutes to the film (no kidding). Mostly, that's because everybody roots for the underdog, and ZERO's story is full of `em. When the story is about a whole town of underdogs, there's a good foundation to make it all come together.

This is not to say ZERO doesn't have some narrative `hiccups,' because it does. For example, the first thirty minutes (or so) are punctuated by clever bits of stylish posturing - the audience is treated to a frozen screen highlighting a particular actor or actress, and then there's a quick, humorous throwaway observation about the actor's career (and not the character in the film). This is something I've seen happen previously in Japanese animes, and, when I've seen it, I've mostly hated it (even when it was divulging something relevant to the story). Why? First, it pulls me out of the motion picture experience by reminding me that I'm watching an actor, not a character, and that's a distraction to me personally. Second, it grinds the narrative to a halt in order to deliver some `technical moment' that, quite frankly, has little or nothing to do with the film. I've had it explained to me that this is nothing more than a bit of Eastern-style humor; while that may be true, that doesn't negate the fact that I find it a distraction. Thankfully, this `technique' disappears after setting up most if not all of the main characters, so I'll let it be.

Still, as the story wears on, it becomes increasingly obvious that Fung and his players are working extremely hard to please its audience. I'd suspect he and they know precisely what they're doing, and they've probably all got a solid grounding in where they're heading with the trilogy. Whereas this might burden other projects, I thought it became somewhat infectious. They've gone to great lengths to pull on an awful lot of influences here - traditional comedy, the triumph of the underdog, weird variations on the basic martial arts film ... and that doesn't even take into account the obvious influence of steampunk heavily at play in one of the most curious contraptions brought to Chinese film! What easily could've been a series of clever but inane stumbles are made to work to the picture's benefit.

So, while it ain't perfect, I enjoyed TAI CHI ZERO quite a bit, and I'll definitely stay tuned for its second chapter.

TAI CHI ZERO is produced by Diversion Pictures and Huayi Brothers & Taihe Film Investment. DVD distribution (stateside) is being handled by Well Go USA Entertainment. As for the technical specs, the film is very accomplished; it looks and sounds fantastic, though (as indicated above) there are a few sequences which heavily remind the audience that its watching a film instead of striving to immerse them in this colorful world. The film has both the original Mandarin language track as well as an English-dubbed track, but I'd encourage viewers who choose the English-dubbed to keep the English-subtitles on as they're needed especially in the early part of the film. As for special features, there's a brief obligatory behind-the-scenes featurette (nothing special), a music video, and theatrical trailers.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. From a story standpoint, I have to reserve judgment until I see where TAI CHI HERO (its forthcoming sequel, the second part of a planned trilogy) takes the story, but so far TAI CHI ZERO is a winning combination of character, action, and humor. It's a delicate balance - one maintained to great accomplishment of all the players, cast and crew - and I'd imagine most folks would be hard pressed to find this nifty little gem nothing short of interesting ... so long as they can get through the opening anime-inspired lunacy. Once those somewhat intrusive introductions are out of the way, ZERO is certainly no zero.

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Well Go USA Entertainment provided me with an advance DVD screener of TAI CHI ZERO for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything "Man with the Iron Fists" wasn't!!!!!!, November 3, 2012
This review is from: Tai Chi Zero (DVD)
Beautifully choreographed kung fu fusion. Imagination, heart, and most of all, FUN!!!!!!!!!!
If this movie doesn't make you smile your chi needs to see a dozen doctors. can't wait for TAI CHI HERO!!!!!!!!The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from the "same old!" Genre-melder opens a kung fu adventure trilogy with strong elements of humor and a videogame feel., February 21, 2013
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This review is from: Tai Chi Zero [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This genre-melder opens an Asian kung fu adventure trilogy with strong elements of humor, Hong Kong theater stunts and a videogame feel. Anyone tired of "the same old…" whatever should give this a shot!

During a playful flashback, we learn that Lu Chan was born with a small horn-like growth on his head recognized by a kung fu master as the crown of three blossoms, prophesying that he will one day become a great kung fu master. This master adopts Lu Chan after the death of his mother (Shu Qi).

Years later we find the young Yang Lu Chan (action newcomer Yuan Xiaochao) on the battlefield. He seems to have a gentle soul. However, "the freak" (as he is called) is capable of becoming a demon-eyed, super-charged menace. Master Dong (Siu-Lung Leung; Kung Fu Hustle) warns Lu Chan that if he does not learn internal kung fu from Master Chen (Tony Leung Ka Fai; Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame), that he will soon deplete his inner energy and die. Not a fan of this prognosis, Lu Chan seeks Master Chen.

However, Master Chen refuses to teach his Chen style kung fu to an outsider--it's actually a village law. As Lu Chan persists, he is thwarted by the Chen style-savvy locals often in funny fight scenes. In fact, humor is a major, frequent component in this kung fu adventure. Lu Chan's dedication earns him the admiration of many villagers, but it is when he helps save the village from a giant, steampunk, iron menace and teaming British soldiers that he earns acceptance by the villagers, and the love of one in particular.

There are strong, oddly-toned humorous elements in this stylistic genre-melder. Very dramatically scored, this movie is filmed beautifully and utilizes many unique, artistic effects, including a comicbook-style animated short mixed with live footage during the opening credits. The inclusion of stempunk elements and written captions identifying objects, landmarks, characters and techniques creates a strong fantasy videogame feel as well.

The fighting includes some well-timed slow-motion in the style of 300 as well as some classic overuse of wire stunts. Strong female characters capable of humor and handling themselves physically--but not at the expense of their emotional vulnerability or loving nature--contribute to a more positive tone as well, providing more of an adventure movie experience than a martial arts action movie.

This entire movie is about Lu Chan trying to learn Chen style kung fu and when the movie is over, he still hasn't. During the credits we see a "preview" of sorts to Tai Chi Hero, the second movie of the Tai Chi trilogy, in which the British invasion on Master Chen's village escalates.

So stay tuned for the next installment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, March 26, 2013
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I love this movie it's one of the best MA films I have seen in a while! I can't wait for the follow up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tai Chi Zero, March 21, 2013
A crazy adventure filled with really good Martial Arts. Light yet serious with lots of laughs. Cant Wait to see the sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest kung fu movie ever., October 15, 2013
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J. Cox (San Rafael, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tai Chi Zero (DVD)
I love this movie. The choreography is great, and the steampunk elements are creative. Great movie line, and just plain fun. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Martial Arts Fantasy, July 31, 2013
This review is from: Tai Chi Zero [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
TAI CHI ZERO is a fun, entertaining martial art fantasy film with tons of cool wire work, impressive fight choreography and some cool "industrial revolution" steampunk influences. The film has a comic book/animation appeal that fans of THE FOUR, DETECTIVE DEE, MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS and the PAINTED SKIN films will enjoy. I can see some folks having a problem with the historical inaccuracy and some of the flashy graphics/CG but this isn't your traditional Chinese fantasy film; it's fast, furious, colorful and exciting. It's not mean to be taken literally, it's meant to dazzle.

I thought this production looked beautiful, the acting-- even from the amateur actors-- was adequate and the story riveting. Instead of being angry this was the first in a trilogy, it made me all the more excited to see the sequel, which I did. Loved and own that one too. BRING ON THE THIRD ENTRY!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Epic, June 26, 2013
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This review is from: Tai Chi Zero [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This movie is awesome. Perfect balance of special effects and legend type storyline. It keep sthe classic genre style and is filled with action scenes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertainment ..., June 24, 2013
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This review is from: Tai Chi Zero [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Great movie! Very entertainment and funny... My son love it. We cannot wait to see the Tai Chi Hero (the part two of the series).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this movie, April 12, 2013
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This review is from: Tai Chi Zero [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Me being a martial arts fan from the old movies to the new movies, the new movies which now have a plot still couldn't compete with the fight scenes. This movie was by far was the best movies of 2012 to me.
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Tai Chi Zero
Tai Chi Zero by Stephen Fung (DVD - 2013)
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