Ever since Keanu Reeves stepped into the role of Neo in the Matrix he has seemingly been obsessed with martial arts. Over the years there were numerous interviews and discussions about his work on new camera technology for filming fight scenes. Word began spreading in 2008 that he was working on a new martial arts film but not only to star but also to direct. That film became known as Man of Tai Chi and is finally here, but was it worth the wait?
Man of Tai Chi follows a young Tai Chi martial artist, whose skills thrust him into the highly lucrative underworld fight scene, threatening everything he was taught to believe in. While Keanu Reeves does play a role here, he is primarily leading the charge as director with stunt man Tiger Chen taking the lead role. The story is pretty simple being very reminiscent of old school martial arts films and manages to deliver everything you could want. Reeves has crafted a great martial arts film filled with a ton of well-choreographed fights that are sure to keep you entertained. Tiger Chen isn’t the greatest actor, which is not a surprise since he is most noted for being a stunt man and he is a bad ass. Reeves plays a small role in the film as the bad guy behind it all and hams it up pretty well. It’s hard to tell if it is his usual stiff delivery or if he is purposely trying to create a stoic character but it works for this genre. He even has a great fight scene with Chen in the film that is fun to watch. Reeves isn’t trying to convince anyone that he is the next martial arts action star, but he is cementing himself in the genre with a decent start.
Surprisingly enough this is a multi-language film that is both English and Chinese that gives it an even more old school authentic feel. Beyond the Matrix films Reeves is not one you would associate with this genre but with this film and his next being 47 Ronin it looks like it’s just begun. He has crafted a B-level martial arts film that looks great, delivers on the action, and showcases his ability as a director.