I was recently given a rare treat to review – a martial arts movie made in the early 1990s starring Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. Tai Chi Master, also known as Tai ji: Zhan San Feng, was directed by Yuen Wo-ping, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest martial arts directors of all time. (Brett Ratner of Rush Hour fame talks about Wo-ping in one of the special features on the DVD.)
Watching Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh in a martial arts movie together is just amazing. Both are fun to watch as martial artists and can act. What a concept!
You can read more about this movie at IMDB here.
The general synopsis is:
A pair of lifelong friends are expelled from their Shaolin temple after being accused of cheating. Tienbao (Chin Siu Ho) becomes a powerful and oppressive military leader while the other, Junbao, (Jet Li) joins the rebels. Only the discipline of Tai Chi can help Junbao defeat his former friend.
There are a number of great fight scenes, but what got me with this film is that it has a heart. Junbao does everything he can to avoid having to fight his friend Tienbao. But in the end, he must defeat him.
The story propels the movie forward (unlike some martial arts movies) and the acting and action are fun and frenetic. What’s not to like?
The only thing I’ll say is that there are little things about the movie that detract from it. Though the wire work is great, there are times where you can tell it’s wire work – not as smooth as something like Crouching Tiger or Hero. But other than that, this is a great martial arts movie faithfully reproduced on DVD.
So I’ll give this 3/4. Be sure to check it out if you like martial arts movies, Jet Li, or Michelle Yeoh!
Tai Chi Master will be released on July 29th! Be sure to look for it at Amazon or other retailers!
Until next time, go see a movie!
Be sure to check out Fitz’s other reviews at the Lair of the Green Knight!