As it turns out, Keanu Reeves can direct like a beast.
Man Of Tai Chi is a rare animal amongst the martial art movies these days. It's a well-written
martial arts movie. It's a movie about Tai Chi both in the literal and philosophical sense, showing a clash between the peaceful nature of Tai Chi and the violent nature of a martial arts competition. Can Tai Chi retain its serenity in the face of brutality? Is the movie's central question. It's a question that's worked really well. It's cool to see Tiger Chen, "a good-hearted man of Tai Chi", descend into a dark path in his teased Protagonist Journey To Villain
Something interesting is that this movie truly shows how a fight scene can tell a story in the same level as dialogue. Some fights feels like a Character Filibuster
for Tiger Chen, as you see wrath and brutality take hold of him through his increasing violence, other fights (such as his Master's clash with him) feel like a philosophical argument between serenity and rage. A punch is worth a hundred words in this movie.
Speaking of the fight scenes, they're some of the most well-coreographed fights in recent memory. Every hit feels real, and every movement feels right. You can truly connect the damage every strike causes on the participants, the hits feel as heavy as they should (or as light
as they should, in the case of Tiger's Master) and you can fully see every fighter using its own unique style, no fight is the same as another, they're all as different as light and day, which keeps the movie from getting boring. It
The visuals are the cherry on top. I really liked this movie's visual styles, specially in the fights (the fight scene with the Bash Brothers
just a flurry of crazy visuals). From the cold and unfeeling grey walls of Donaka's facility to the calm yet somber grounds of the ancient Temple, every fight has its own fitting mood.
It also turns out Keanu Reeves can make a heck of a villain. Donaka Mark's unpleasantness was thoroughly entertaining the whole movie, and not in a silly manner. His threat felt imposing.
Man Of Tai Chi is a movie with great characterization and writing, well-done visuals, great acting, and some of the best fight scenes this side of Bruce Lee. What else can you wish for?