"Tai Chi Master" (also known as "Twin Warriors") is a 1993 martial arts films starring Jet Li
and Michelle Yeoh
. It tells the story of two childhood friends, the nice if somewhat slow Junbao
(Li) and the more hot-tempered Tienbo, who grew up in a Shaolin Temple. They would often get in trouble either because of Tienbo's temper or for being bullied by other students. Only one Master in particular liked them, though he pretended not to
Eventually, as adults, both are thrown out of the temple after Tienbo nearly kills another student who cheated during a fight.(This despite proving themselves incredibly formidable against an army of monks.) Their old teacher gives them as a parting gift a kind of wooden scroll that they are not supposed to read until they find themselves at a crossroad in their lives.
The two of them try to earn a living at a small town but end up involving themselves in other people's problems
; first they help a female warrior called Miss Li when she tries to protect a man being harassed with unfair taxes by the army. Later they save another woman, Siu Lin (Yeoh) when she comes looking for her missing husband and finds him married to the governor's niece. Hilarity (and lots of fights) ensue
Tienbo, fascinated by the power of the army, joins it, but Junbao refuses, so they finally go their separate ways. Tienbo soon rises up the ranks, while Junbao works at a pub and becomes close to Siu. It turns out however that the pub is the headquarters of the rebellion against the corrupt government, so the two friends are now on opposite sides. At first it looks like Tienbo will use his connections inside the army to help the rebels, and tells them when they can kidnap the governor. But it's a trap- he betrayed the rebels to make himself look better. Most of them die and the two women are captured- only Junbao escaped. Later he confronts his former friend who justifies his actions by claiming the rebels were doomed anyway. They fight and Junbao is able to rescue Siu, but Li dies
.After this incident Junbao's mind snaps as he cannot believe his childhood friend actually tried to kill him. Eventually he recovers when he remembers the scroll and opens it- it turns out to be The Book Of Chi, which explains the laws governing the forces in nature. Reading it gradually restores his sanity and increases his powers as he develops the titular style; Tai Chi
.The rebels managed to capture the governor and try to use him to get Tienbo to surrender. Tienbo fights with Junbao but cannot beat him; he then kills the Governor when he is ordered to surrender, thinking the army would follow him. This backfires when they refuse to. Tienbo dies when Junbao (accidentally) knocks him on some spears
.The movie ends with Junbao returning to the temple to become a teacher
Tropes in this film:
- Action Girl: Siu, Li, and even the Governor's niece.
- Adorkable: Junbao may be a Bad Ass, but he's pretty naive on worldly matters for the first half of the movie.
- Bad Ass: Tianbo, Junbao, the monks.
- Bad Boss: Tianbo after his Face Heel Turn. He applies Training from Hell which actually kills his soldiers and uses them as human missiles against Junbao in their final battle. They eventually desert him.
- Bare-Fisted Monk
- Chaste Hero: Junbao during the first half of the movie was actually scared of touching Siu. He was raised to be a monk, so this is justifiable.
- Chekhov's Gun: The scroll.
- Combat Medic: The rebels have one, who pretends to be a kooky fortuneteller.
- Counter Attack: Just look at the title.
- Crapsack World: The government is corrupt, the peasants will kill you if offered money... even in the temple there were bullies.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Junbao's fights after developing Tai Chi becomes this.
- Deadly Counter: Junbao does this after developing Tai Chi, most notably against Tienbo.
- The Dog Bites Back: The army turns its back on Tienbo when he tries to take over, largely because his promotion wasn't exactly legal but mostly because they were sick of his treatment of them.
- Dragon Ascendant: Tienbo goes from a soldier to overshadowing the man who gave him his chance, and eventually becomes the Big Bad.
- Evil Former Friend
- Face Heel Turn: Tienbo.
- Foreshadowing: One of the rebels plays with a ball using tai chi-esque moves and philosophies.
- Heroic BSOD: Junbao has a BIG one.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tianbo. Until after his Face Heel Turn.
- Klingon Promotion: Tianbo assumes this, however it doesn't really take since The Dog Bites Back.
- La Résistance
- Love Interest: The two women seem to be this for our protagonists. However only Siu actually is; Li gets killed for refusing to be Tienbo's concubine. They're not specifically shown to have gotten together, though.
- Made of Iron: Junbao and Tianbo. A group of hired guards beat them up at one point. Their reaction? Pick the coins on the ground.
"Earning money is so easy!"
- Martial Pacifist: Junbao, especially after his powerup.
- Meaningful Name: Junbao was renamed Zhang Sanfeng by the doctor who tried to treat his madness. Sanfeng was explained in-movie as meaning "3-times crazy". Junbao later mistook the Feng part to be prosperity.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Or rather mid-movie upgrade.
- Origin Story: ... of tai chi.
- The Pollyanna: Jet Li's character, but even it has its breaking point (his best friend's Face Heel Turn, specifically).
- Training Montage: Several times. Notably Tienbo's Training from Hell for his troops plays this wildly differently than most martial arts movies.
- The Mole: Tienbo. Not.
- Mood Whiplash: The movie feels like a comedy for the first half; afterwards... not so much. On a smaller scale, Junbao's Heroic BSOD alternates between him seeming broken and empty and slapstick.
- Wire Fu
- World of Badass: After leaving the monastery, the first thing that happens to the duo is they encounter a street mugging thwarted by an Action Girl, then take refuge in a restaurant where a fight breaks out between a street musician and the governor's sister. That night they accidentally find out that the restaurant is a rebel base camp.