Simon Yam

ff man of tai chi

Expectations are a funny thing, but while it’s never fun to go into a movie excited only to leave it a disappointed and broken man (I’m looking at you Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut) it’s an absolute delight to enter a theater anticipating very little and then exit it smiling, happy, and already excited to see the film again. Enter Keanu Reeves‘ directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi. Yeah, I was surprised too. Chen Lin-hu (Tiger Hu Chen) is a blue collar delivery man who spends his free time training his tai chi skills at a remote temple alongside his master, Yang (Yu Hai). Chen is participating in a national televised tournament, and while Master Yang doesn’t approve of tai chi being used for fighting Chen sees it as an opportunity to spread the word on a dying form of martial arts. It works, albeit not quite how Chen envisions it, and he soon receives an offer to join Donaka Mark’s (Reeves) corporation as a fighter. The wins and big payouts start almost immediately, but when the truth of Donaka’s business model is revealed Chen is forced to re-evaluate his position with the company.



It’s not often that you find cinematic art in a prison shower scene. Well, let’s rephrase. Non-exploitative prison shower scenes are rarely things of beauty. (Much better.) This film’s opening is an exception though as a single man fends off multiple attackers in an absolutely brutal and bloody brawl. The violent action is captured through painful-looking fight choreography and camerawork that utilizes slow motion to great effect. Bones are broken, blood is spilled and the scene ends leaving viewers as drained as the only man left standing. That man, Eugene Wang (Nick Cheung), is released from prison after a twenty year sentence for the rape and murder of a young woman, and his first stop is to grab some ice cream and eyeball some cute women at a busy intersection. He spots a teenager named Zoe (Janice Man) at a music university who looks almost identical to the woman he was convicted of killing, and soon he’s living in a small shack near her home, watching her through a telescope and plastering his wall with her picture. When a burned, beaten and disfigured corpse is discovered nearby Inspector Lam (Simon Yam) is tasked with the case. He has his own issues including an emotionally distant daughter and a wife who reportedly killed herself a few years prior, and as he focuses in on the dead body he discovers a link to the other killing two decades earlier.



Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Hong Kong!

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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