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Film / Tai Chi Zero

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A 2012 Steampunk Martial Arts film from the writer of Detective Dee and the Phantom Flame. When a young martial arts prodigy seeks training in the secret tai chi style of Chen Village, he quickly and repeatedly finds his requests refused. This does not stop him. However, with the Qing dynasty coming to an end, and industry beating at the gates, the town finds itself in need of a hero. Well, one among many.

The movie had been filmed together with it's sequel / second half Tai Chi Hero released soon after.


  • Action Girl: Yu Niang.
  • Almighty Janitor: "Uncle Laborer." Actually Master Chen.
  • And Now He Must Marry Me: A rare heroic example. To prevent Lu Chan from getting his limbs disabled, Yu Niang marries him, thereby bringing him into the family.
  • And Then What?: Brought up unsuccessfully in Lu Chan's defense by Master Chen. When he tries to assert that such a prodigy is unlikely to be rendered unable to use the tai chi style that he's learned by Power Copying, the elders simply state that if severing his tendons and breaking his legs will not work, they will just have to punish him more harshly.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: During some fight scenes. Arguably, something rare on Wuxia stories that doesn't have a modern or futuristic setting.
  • Birthmark of Destiny: Lu Chan's "Three Blossoms on the Crown", a hornlike growth on his head, marks him as a kung fu prodigy.
  • Boss Subtitles: For nearly every major and some minor characters when they are introduced, with the bigger stars getting mentions of their past works.
  • But Not Too Foreign: The actress who plays Claire is half white and half Chinese. Averted, however, in that she is depicted as a foreigner. Interestingly, Angelababy who plays the female lead is also of mixed race, but portrayed as purely Chinese.
  • Butt-Monkey: Fang Zi Jing. Despite being raise for his entire early life in Chen Village, he was still treated as an outsider due to being born outside the village. When he came back as an adult trying to impress them with his advanced technology, his presentation fails due to accidental sabotage. He comes back to build the railroad through force... whereupon his true love, Claire, dies in his arms when the village strikes back against him. Then in the final battle of the first film, despite the fact that he did try to get the troops not to open fire, he's still treated as though he was the worst of the bunch by the elders and dragged face first through gravel. By the end of the second film/half where he gets more and more wounded with his failed attempts to destroy the village he gets dragged off to a asylum/hospital where it is implied he will be experimented on.
  • Combat Medic: Two of them!
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Master Chen seems to stop a barrage of bullets by throwing produce between the soldiers and the villagers.
  • Edible Ammunition: The villager assault the invaders with produce.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Everyone in Chen Village knows kung fu.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Claire Heathrow
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Once, when hit on his horn and his power manifests, Lu Chan's eyes glow.
  • Heroic RRoD: Lu Chan's "Three Blossoms on the Crown", combined with the kung fu he has been taught, have been killing him. Most of the fights he engages in result in him bleeding from the nose and passing out in short order.
  • Little Miss Badass: one of the people who beats up Lu Chan when he tries to get into the village is a little girl. Also true in real life, as her actress is apparently an actual kung fu prodigy (if her introduction text is to be believed)
  • Marked Change: When Lu Chan's horn is struck, it swells and darkens, and he briefly becomes an unstoppable fighting machine. The first time this happened to him, as a child, he developed Tainted Veins on his face. The second time we see it, he briefly displays Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • Movie Posters Always Lie: the posters in the US show Lu Chan with glowing white eyes in front of a towering machine. In the film, his eyes only glow briefly for one scene, in the beginning, and the tank on the poster, while impressive, is a latecomer to the story, and is never fought directly.
  • One-Man Army: Master Chen. One wonders why he even had to bother arming the villagers.
  • On the Next: Tai Chi Zero ends with a preview of the next movie Tai Chi Hero
  • Power Copying: Lu Chan gains a solid footing in the tai chi style of Chen Village by observing it. First-hand. Lots.
  • Second Love: Claire is this to Fang Zijing after he breaks off his engagement with Yu Niang. Claire's death is what pushes him towards becoming a true villain.
  • The Shangri-La: Chen Village.
  • Shout-Out: Several to different video games and media.
    • During the scene where Lu Chan is challenging various random villagers each fight starts with a 'VS.' screen and 'K.O.' caption similar to those in the Fighting Game genre.
  • Steampunk: The giant steam-powered robotic tank/railroad track laying machine.
  • Taking the Bullet: Lu Chan takes a bullet intended for Yu Niang at the end of Tai Chi Zero.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Fang Zijing was raised in Chen Village, but not being a native son was never taught the fighting style everyone else there was instructed in. His motivation is clearly for the respect of the village, and it isn't until the end of the movie after his display of electric lighting went terribly wrong, and his attempts to force the rail line through have ended not just in failure, but in Claire's death that he cements his place as a true villain.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Master Chen supports Lu Chan and guides him in destroying the war machine that Fang Zijing brings with him. But he confides to his daughter that this was primarily so that the village wouldn't take the blame.
  • Wok Fu: The climax of Tai Chi Hero.
  • Village of Badass: It seems that everyone in Chen Village is a martial arts master. The doctor? Check. That lady who sits there playing mahjongg? Check. The guy selling tofu? Check. That little girl over there? ...yep.

Alternative Title(s): Tai Chi Hero