Keanu’s The Man from Tai Chi

Big Giant Sword Fighting Avatar

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I popped in The Man from Tai Chi this past weekend. I really love watching martial arts movies — the good, the bad, and the ugly. ‘Course, it should be said I watch a lot of these for fun. I’m so clueless I can’t recognize what’s kung fu and what’s not; it’s a touch embarrassing as I’ve always admired the art. But, as a writer myself, I do like a good story and a tightly shot one at that. Having seen so many of these films, I have certain expectations when I watch these movies–especially if they’re being shot by an American director.

The Man From Tai Chi surprised me in a lot of ways because I felt it was a solid movie that played with (and expanded) certain tropes in a great blend of East-meets-West. To me, Keanu Reeves seemed more confident acting on screen than he had been in years. The casting was great, the costuming was flawless, and many of the screen shots were extremely subtle. There was a marked balance of opposites throughout the film to further the point of the story. Rich versus poor. Passion versus stillness. Power versus control. And, of course, the main character was aptly named Tiger.

Other than the movie’s title, I liked this conspiratorial film. It’s a very tightly woven narrative and I feel the story/theme was respectful of what’s preceded it in the genre. I also really appreciate seeing female characters in roles that aren’t marginalized and overly romanticized as well.

Overall, I think this was a solid directorial debut and I’m curious to see if Reeves is going to take the plunge again. Dare I say… I’d love to see him direct a version of Blood that’s more in line with the original? Or The Last Airbender? It’s nice to see an American director “get” the genre and translate it appropriately.

Official Trailer below.

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Monica Valentinelli is an author, artist, and narrative designer who writes about magic, mystery, and mayhem. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.

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