Tai Chi 0 is Hong
Kong's attempted answer to Scott Pilgrim
Versus the World mixed with the
Looney Toons mentality of Stephen Chow. The film combines style elements of
old school kung fu, comic books, videos games, and, oddly enough, steampunk.
Visually, director Stephen Fung is attempting a hyper-stylized experiment never
seen in traditional kung fu flicks.
Quick cuts, random video game style overlays and actor credits that
appear throughout the movie as each character is introduced are among the odd
stylistic choices present throughout.
Of course, there's also the martial arts action that is amazingly
choreographed by the legendary Sammo Hung. Tai Chi 0 is an
incredibly silly, kung fu blast of fun that favors spectacle over story.
Yang Luchuan (played by martial arts champion Yuan Xiaochao)
has a problem. The demon horn
growing out of his head might indicate that he's the "one", a tai chi prodigy
that comes around rarely. Issue
being, he doesn't know anything about the ways of tai chi. On his way to the fabled Chen Village,
he fights for the acceptance of his masters as well as the fierce war machines
of the empire threatening to destroy the village. It's a by-the-numbers, rise-of-a-hero story with a funny
lead performance that helps distract from the ridiculous story but not the
overbearing visual style.
As inventive and cool as the visuals are at first, over time
they become a little too much, eventually exhausting the audience. As if the insanity of the entire movie
isn't enough, Tai Chi 0 ends in about
the most frustrating way possible with a sudden halt and a trailer for the next
movie. Honestly, the next one looks great and in some ways better than this, so
why didn't they just make a long kung fu hybrid epic? The film is quite fun,
featuring some of the better choreographed martial arts sequences of recent
memory, yet I found myself bothered by a generic story that relies far too much
on its visual weirdness.