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Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with this spectacular martial-arts epic starring former Matrix stuntman Tiger Chen and featuring fight choreography by the legendary Yuen Woo-ping.
A bone-crunching, high-flying, supercharged
saga of self-realization through
martial arts, Man of Tai Chi follows a quiet
delivery man recruited to take part in illegal,
no-holds-barred fights, where financial
rewards can be dizzyingly high — often at
the cost of one's soul. The directorial debut
of iconic actor Keanu Reeves speaks to his
rigour, sensitivity to process, and willingness
to learn from the many great filmmakers
with whom he's collaborated.
Linhu (Tiger Chen) lives in a Beijing
tenement block. When not working, he
studies English and practices a form of tai
chi called Ling Kong, which means "Empty
your spirit." Everything changes when
Linhu receives an offer from a mysterious
businessman, Donaka Mark (Reeves), to
compete in an underground fight club.
Initially Linhu turns Donaka down, until
he realizes how his earnings could rescue
his tai chi master's dilapidated temple
from being demolished. But success as a
fighter — fuelled by his deeply traditional,
disciplined mode of martial art — brings out
a savage side in Linhu. The film's real battle
becomes an internal one, between Linhu's
pacifist principles and his violent impulses.
It's hard to imagine a better vehicle for
Reeves' directorial ambitions. As his screen
persona shifted from awestruck youth to
action hero, an undercurrent of spiritual
searching evolved. This was nowhere more
apparent than in The Matrix, which was
as much a parable about struggling with
age-old existential questions as it was a
mind-blowing science-fiction spectacle.
The Matrix was also where Reeves met
legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wooping
and stuntman-turned-star Chen. Man
of Tai Chi reunites these three, showcasing
their established skills while posing each
with considerable challenges. See this
dazzling and thoughtful film, and you will
understand just how brilliantly those challenges
have been met.
- Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut and raised in Toronto. His many films as an actor include River's Edge (86), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (89), My Own Private Idaho (91), which screened at the Festival, Point Break (91), Speed (94), The Matrix trilogy (99, 03), A Scanner Darkly (06), and Man of Tai Chi (13), with which he also makes his directorial debut.