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Tai Chi Hero

When taken together, the first two films of the trilogy is provisionally an origin story of real-life tai chi legend Yang Luchan (played by Wushu champion Yuan Xiaochao as an idiot in Zero), and practically a straightforward action comedy in which its simpleminded hero earns both lucidity for his mind and refinement of his uncontrollable talent for the martial arts.

Tai Chi Hero

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I believe I enjoyed this sequel to Tai Chi Zero a little better than its predecessor. Maybe it's because I paid closer attention. To my tastes, there are better fight scenes, particularly a quite elegant one that takes place in a kitchen on top of just-inches-wide wooden beams and another one during which the three main heroes tackle an army. For a film so full of fighting, though, it feels somehow violence-free and I appreciate the choices the filmmakers made to avoid showing any real physical damage to human bodies. The bombs fall but they never hit anyone directly. This is a great Friday-night popcorn movie. I hope there's a third installment.

Like many kung fu movies, Tai Chi Zero draws on Chinese history. The era is circa 1900, and the Boxer Rebellion is under way. British imperialists and their local minions represent evil, while the "zero" hero is based on a real person, Yang Lu Chan, who founded his own school of tai chi. But such backstory is hardly essential; director Stephen Fung bends the past every which way as he ventures into the Victorian-futurist genre known as steampunk. 041b061a72


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