When I popped in my review disc for Muay Thai Warrior, I came across a trailer for Tai Chi Zero. Looking like a mix of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Kung Fu Hustle infused with steampunk, I was pretty excited that the Blu-ray was sitting on my shelf, just waiting to be watched. Director Stephen Fung delivered exactly that. With some friends joining me, we noticed that a slew of objects seemed to be flying at the screen, so it was no surprise to see a 3D section during the end credits. Not knowing the film was part of a trilogy, we were pretty let down to not see the film reach a true climax. I learned online that it was indeed part of a trilogy and that they were all originally in 3D, and the first two are available for purchase on Blu-ray from overseas. So when the opportunity to review Tai Chi Hero finally came to be, I just had to see what came next.
Picking up right where Zero left off, we meet up again with Yang Lu Chan (Yuan Xiaochao), learning the ways of Tai Chi in Chen Village with the help of his bride, Chen Yu Niang (Angelababy), daughter of Master Chen (Tony Leung). Furthering the story, we learn of the Bronze Bell Prophecy that says if the bell tolls at night, the village will fall. Everyone is reluctant to taking in Lu Chan, but the 10th Grandmaster (Yin Tse) has his back while sharing words of wisdom such as, “Eat, drink, shit, and fart is all related to kung fu.” Meanwhile, Fang Zi Jing (Eddie Peng) has returned, bringing with him the dastardly Duke Fleming (Peter Stormare) of the British East India Company. Also returning is big brother Zai Yang (Feng Shaofeng) and his wife Yuner (Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh), who can’t help but stir up trouble with their steampunk antics.
I first ran across the deliciously loopy work of director Fung through Netflix with his House of Fury. Continuing with his own brand of goofy fun, Tai Chi Hero lets the slapstick fly while mixing in the dramatic elements but leaving room for some hilarious spoof moments. The kung fu doesn’t fly as well as in Zero, even with both being choreographed by the legendary Sammo Hung. Seeing how Zero and Hero were filmed together, perhaps for the final installment Fung can bring in some fresh blood. I know Yuen Woo-ping is still available, and I can only imagine what a grand finale that could make bringing him into the mix.
Angelababy is as easy on the eyes as she is capable at Tai Chi, and Xiaochao continues to provide Lu Chan the necessary naïvette while essentially becoming a superhero. Stormare chews the scenery as much here as he has lately in things like The Last Stand and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, but the real star here is Fung and his writers. No sight gag is too silly or joke too broad, but it’s all played with a straight face making sure the laughs are as hard as the punches making Tai Chi Hero a worthy follow up, and I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends — and hopefully, finally in 3D.
Photo courtesy Well Go USA