Nearly 15 years after kicking digital behind in “The Matrix,” Keanu Reeves puts on the director hat to introduce the next generation to a new way of viewing martial arts that goes beyond standard chop-socky fare in “Man of Tai Chi.”
If the first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club, then the second rule is not to disobey the boss, as an unwitting fighter discovers in the opening scene. When the fighter refuses to take Donaka Mark (Reeves) literally after being told to finish off his opponent, the warrior loses more than his employee parking.
Chen Lin-Hu (Tiger Chen) is an overworked delivery driver (think FedEx on mopeds). When he’s not delivering parcels in the congested streets of Beijing, young Chen is spending time at Master Yang’s (Yu Hai) Tai Chi temple. Chen has all the moves, but he’s unfocused, believing power over spiritual balance is the way to excel, and more importantly, win fame through the nationally televised martial arts tournament. It’s not long before Mark catches wind of Chen’s fighting prowess and tries to bring him into the fold. Chen initially resists the promise of money and fame to be part of Mark’s underground fighting ring, but when situations threaten the temple, Chen gives in. As his victories begin to pile up, all the rage Chen’s been holding back begins to surface, prompting him to team up with an ambitious detective named Suen Jing-Si (Karen Mok) to bring down the elusive Donaka Mark before Chen’s next fight is his last.