This film was originally released on DVD (region 1, anyway) back in 2000, in an edition that was tagged as part of the Jet Li Collection. However, it should be noted that it bore the title Twin Warriors, was missing about three minutes of action, and was devoid of the original language and music track. In lieu of the audio omission, the DVD came complete with an English dub track and redone music. In other words, it did a terrible disservice to the film, and I have to admit to owning it. I enjoyed the film, but it was not nearly as good as it would reveal itself to be in its proper form.
The new DVD entitled Tai Chi Master is the original cut, complete with the original Cantonese audio, remastered video, and a host of extras. All of this courtesy of The Weinstein Company (which was known for mercilessly cutting foreign films), Genius Products, and under the Dragon Dynasty banner. If you are a fan of martial arts films, be sure to check out the Dragon Dynasty line.
The film stars martial arts legend Jet Li, who was in the prime of his career at this point. Alongside Li is another legend, Michelle Yeoh. The two pair up to work under the direction of yet another legend, Yuen Woo Ping. Of course, while the first two were well respected, it was the skills of Yuen Woo Ping — who had been making classics since the 1970's — that made it possible for this film to do nothing other than succeed.
The story of Tai Chi Master is a simple one. This movie is not deep and it doesn't have to be. Not every film needs to be a comment on society, or portray reality, or do anything other than entertain. Entertaining is something this movie excels at.
Anyone who has watched kung fu films before will recognize the story, and by the time twenty-minutes pass you will have a pretty good idea how it will turn out. The plot, while still an important part of the movie, is primarily the stage-setter for the fight scenes. Tai Chi Master has plenty of those, ranging from the comical to the deadly serious.
The film begins by introducing us to the young Jun Bao (Jet Li) and Tien Bao (Chin Siu Ho), two young students at Shaolin Temple. We follow them as they grow up, learning the ways of Shaolin kung fu, while also revealing Jun Bao to be the intelligent, thoughtful one, and Tien Bao to be a hotheaded prone to acting out. This hotheadedness leads to the duo into getting in trouble frequently, ultimately resulting in their expulsion from the temple.