Notable Cast: Yuan Xiaochao, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Angelababy, Eddie Peng, Stephen Fung, Peter Stomare, and a slew of cameos including Daniel Wu and Yuen Biao.
I loved "Tai Chi Zero." It was a modernized kung fu film of epic idea with its steam punk elements, video game inspired graphics, and quirky humor. It was fun, heartfelt, and most importantly - awesomely entertaining. This is perhaps why my expectations for the second half of the entire film, dubbed "Tai Chi Hero," were so high. This might also be the reason for my disappointment overall in the film. As a sequel it certainly hit all the marks it was supposed to with its bigger scope and more complex story, but it also strayed further from the some of the writing elements that made the first such a blast leaving it feeling like it tried a bit too hard.
When we last left our hero Lu Chan (Yuan Xiaochao) in "Tai Chi Zero," he was on the verge of marrying Chen Yu Niang (Angelababy) as her dedication to saving his life when he sacrificed himself for her. Her father, the leader of Chen Ching Xiang (Tony Leung Ka Fai) seems to think she can cure him of his ailment by training him in their familial kung fu and with a little love. The problem then remains as her brother mysteriously shows up and stirs up rumors of a prophecy meant to end the village. And on the horizon, scorned and scarred, Fang Zi Jing (Eddie Peng) is plotting his revenge against Chen Village by building an army to take there.
|We can be heroes...just for one day.
Unfortunately, most of these are moments of a larger whole. That larger whole being this idea of Eastern kung fu spirituality and simplicity of life versus that Western need for expansion and greed. This is where the film tends to try a bit too hard. The elusive brother-in-law plot strikes too much of a resemblance to the entire plot of the first film as his torment in the hands of Chen village leads him to turn to machinery and engineering (even if his turn around in character is justifiably effective) and our main villain Fang Zi Jing seems to have become a rather 2D caricature of his previously sympathetic self. In fact, most of his screen time is spent rushing through his underhanded rise to power to lead an army and an ill-explained alliance with a Western business man who is sinisterly played by Peter Stormare (a favorite actor here at Blood Brothers and always a smart choice for a dick villain). The motivations here are either redundant or quickly brushed over and it leaves us never feeling the true danger for our protagonists.
|"I know you're a villain. You have scars on your face, duh."
|Lesson one in Ass-Kicking 101.
Written By Matt Reifschneider