Man of Tai Chi stars martial artist Tiger Hun Chen – a stunt performer on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix sequels – as a deadly fighter, who catches the eyes of an unscrupulous fellow (Keanu Reeves) who makes his living in the dangerous world of underground Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournaments. Chen, as the protagonist, thrives at his new profession, thanks to his deadly skills in the arena and (not so) deeply buried bloodlust – but can he step away from this world, before he abandons his morals and honor completely?
Reeves is making his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi, which is based on a script written by Michael G. Cooney (whose resume includes the video games Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 6). The supporting cast include veterans of the martial arts genre, such as Karen Mok (Black Mask), Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption) and Simon Yam (Ip Man).
The previously-released Man of Tai Chi international trailer highlighted the fighting and action sequences, but this new preview also outlines the story with greater detail (perhaps too much detail, in fact). No surprise, the martial art combat scenes look to feature excellent choreography – courtesy of master stunt coordinator Woo-ping Yuen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill, etc.) – and nice-and-clean cinematography, thanks to Elliot Davis (The Iron Lady).
Unfortunately, the fact that Man of Tai Chi was scripted by someone who (partly) comes from a video game background seems to show, in a bad way; that is, with regard to the plot (which appears to be a series of “boss fights”) and even lines of dialogue like Reeves shouting “Finish him!” a la Mortal Kombat-style. Similarly, while it’s a refreshing change of pace to see Reeves play the antagonist, his presence seems a bit lacking in trailer footage. [Insert your Keanu Reeves acting joke of choice here.]
Man of Tai Chi is currently without an official U.S. theatrical release date. We’ll let you know when that changes.