Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#1,591. Tai-Chi Master (1993)

Directed By: Yuen Woo Ping

Starring: Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Siu-Ho Chin

Tag line: "A Legendary Meeting"

Trivia: Along with playing the lead role, Jet Li also produced this movie

Best friends Jun Bao (Jet Li) and Tien Bo (Chin Siu Ho) are monks in the Shaolin temple, yet despite their lowly status, both have trained extensively in the martial arts. Hoping to impress the Shaolin master (Hai Yu), Tien Bo participates in a fighting contest, only to lose his cool when his opponent cheats. Jun Bao is quick to come to his friend’s aid, and as a result, they are asked to leave the temple. Out in the real world for the first time in their lives, the two friends do what it takes to survive. Jun Bao befriends a group of rebels who, with the help of jilted wife Siu Lin (Michelle Yeoh) and young pickpocket Miss Li (other girl), are trying to overthrown the territory’s corrupt Royal Governor (Jian-kui Sun). Hoping to one day become a rich and powerful man, Tien Bo instead enlists in the army, and quickly rises through the ranks to become one of the Governor’s bodyguards. Despite the different paths their lives have taken, Jun Bao and Tien Bo remain friends, but when Tien Bo learns he’s in line for a promotion, he makes a decision that could ultimately turn Jun Bo against him.

One of the first collaborations between Jet Li (who also served as the film’s producer) and director Yuen Wo Ping, Tai Chi Master contains some extraordinary martial arts sequences, the most stunning of which occurs just after the fighting contest in the Shaolin temple, when Tien Bo, having angered the Master by allowing his temper to get the best of him, joins with Jun Bao to take on the Temple’s elite warriors, all of whom are brandishing wooden poles (the resulting showdown has to be seen to be believed). Yet as incredible as this particular battle scene is, it’s simply the first of many that appear throughout the film. On top of this, Tai Chi Master is a very funny movie; a later sequence where Jun Bao temporarily loses his mind features some hilarious moments, showing that Jet Li is as good a comedian as he is a fighter.

With spectacular showdowns that, no matter how intense they may be, are always fun to watch, Tai Chi Master delivers more than its share of amazing martial arts action, peppered with a sense of humor that’s equally as satisfying.

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