Tai Chi Zero is part 1 of a two part movie, the next being “Tai Chi Hero”. These movies are a very VERY loose story interpretation of the famous kung fu tai chi master, Yang Lu-chan, founder of Yang style tai chi chuan.
Here’s some of the facts. Yang Lu-chan was a known long fist martial artist who sought out the unique fighting style kept within Chen village. At this time, the art was not known as tai chi chuan (supreme ultimate fist). There is some obscurity to the naming convention at the time but it has passed through other names such as cotton palm and thirteen methods boxing. In any case, Yang Lu-chan worked at Chen village and was eventually taught their method.
This is where any similarity to the events in Tai Chi Zero ends. In fact, the entire world is a loose interpretation of the real world. So expect a cool alternate reality when watching this movie.
Tai Chi Zero (2012), directed by Stephen Fung, is still the story of a Yang Lu-chan (actor Yuan Xiaochao).
In this version of the story, the young Lu-chan is raised by a war-monger martial artist who recognizing the massive power in Lu-chan thanks to the strange horn deformity on his head known as the Three Blossoms of the Crown. This same horn, which sends him into murderous frenzies, is also killing him so he seeks out the master of Chen Village to train him and save his life.
However, once he arrives, he finds the villages unwilling to share their treasured martial secrets to outsiders. As can be expected, Lu-chan refuses to give up and leave. He is convinced by an old hermit that the only way he can convince the masters to train him is to become a great hero of the village.
From here, the story intertwines with an odd mix of 19th century Chinese life in the Boxer Rebellion and steampunk universe.
The old ways of the village are being threatened by the plans to build a railroad from a technology-driven ex-villager, Fang Zi Jing, and his foreigner companions. Yang Lu-chan and female interest, Chen Yu Niang (daughter of master Chen Chang Xiang), work to stop the tech-nightmares.
The movie tries to have some fun in a steampunky, video game-esque style. For instance, identifying the actual famous people during the movie while introducing their characters; also, during Yang Lu-chans attempt to gain entry into the village, he must fight his way past the defenders, each one treating us to a Street Fighter style marquee such as, “Round 1!”. The fighting is quite good and well choreographed by the seasoned Sammo Hung.
It’s a fun movie that definitely leaves you wanting more. I’m not sure I would call it a good movie though… more of an odd but enjoyable movie with a weird mix of history, retro-future-revisionism (I just made that up), love story, and of course, kung fu. The movie takes itself almost as seriously as this official trailer:
I can’t wait to see the sequel which is out now. Also, i changed my mind, it is a good movie… maybe great.