Blu-ray Review: Tai Chi Zero

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Our friends out at Well Go Entertainment sent over this little surprise for us tonight, folks, and it’s going to be a very unique piece of work for one important reason: it’s unique even among the unique. It’s “Tai Chi Zero”, and it’s going to be like very little in the market today. It won’t be out until January 22, but when it does, you’ll want a copy, or at least a rental.

“Tai Chi Zero” takes us out to Chen village, where everybody is a martial arts master. Specifically, they’re a master of Chen Style Tai Chi, which makes perfect sense given that that’s where they’re all from. The villagers are forbidden to teach Chen Style Tai Chi to outsiders, a fact that doesn’t sit well with new arrival Lu Chan, who has come to train in Chen Style Tai Chi. By way of dissuading him, Lu Chan is subject to a series of fights with most of the village, including small children and the elderly. But Chen village is about to get an unwelcome blast from their past, as a man they’re well familiar with descends on the village with plans to build a rail like through it. He’s backing those plans up with a monstrous steam-powered apparatus, and it’s going to take a whole lot to knock this monster out and save Chen village. Thankfully, Lu Chan’s got a little extra going for him…but will even that be enough?

If the word “steampunk” came to you at any point in the previous paragraph, then congratulations. What you’re about to witness here is what may well be the first of its kind: a steampunk kung fu movie. That certainly got my attention when I first heard of it, because, well, it was the first I’d ever heard of such a thing. It was crazy. It was utterly unique, and frankly, that was good enough for me. But as we’ve seen lately with things like “Branded”, a good idea is one thing, but execution counts for plenty too.

Thankfully, as is often the case with Chinese action fare, “Tai Chi Zero” has plenty of great action, loads of terrifically choreographed fight scenes, a bit of romance, and even some humor thrown in. Occasionally, text placards–written in Chinese but with English translations–will emerge explaining where the actors came from originally, like one for Fung Hak-On, described as “A Founding Member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team”. This is quickly followed up with an impressive sequence in which Lu Chan fights his way through a column of troops, knocking something off them into the air, and then using that as a weapon in the next fight, first a helmet, then a shield.

This wonderful combination of steam-powered tech backed up with high-flying martial arts is a delight in no uncertain terms. It’s a beauty of a film, and one every inch worth watching.

As for special features, you’ll get your choice of Mandarin Chinese or English language tracks, your choice of English or Chinese subtitles, a behind the scenes featurette, a set of music videos, and three different trailers for “Tai Chi Zero”. Additionally, before the movie begins, you’ll also get access to trailers for “The Assassins”, “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen”, and “IP Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster”, but these will be unavailable from the main menu, a practice I approve of only slightly more than not including subtitles.

“Tai Chi Zero” is a terrific combination of frequently unseen genres intermingling together in a fashion that’s wholly unique and delightfully fun to watch. Definitely get your hands on a copy of this one; it’s too much fun and far too unique to pass up.

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