Movie review score
Tai Chi Zero sensibly never takes itself (or its genre) overly seriously and is simply there to deliver special effects driven kinetic martial arts action. And deliver it does. The film, directed by actor-turned-director Stephen Fung (Gen-X Cops), screened out of competition at Venice (the festival always likes to throw in a wild and crazy martial arts film into its mix, last year it was the probably more bonkers The Sorcerer And The White Snake), is intended to be the first in a trilogy that details – extremely loosely – the story of Yang Luchan, the inventor of Tai Chi. The film opens – in familiar martial arts epic style – on the battlefield, where the focus is Lu Chuan (Yuan Xiaochao), known since he was born as ‘The Freak’ due to the fact he was born with an small horn-like bump on the side of his head that when hit turns him into a martial arts demon for a brief time, but leaves him drained and increasingly ill. Advised that he needs to find training on a form of inner kung fu, he seeks out the remote Chen village and a master to teach him. But the villagers forbid teaching their style of martial arts to outsiders, and repeatedly fight him off. He has several run-ins with the beautiful Yuniang (Angelababy, whose real name is Angela Yeung Wing), who is the granddaughter of the master, who seems to have vanished from the village. Things are doubly complicated due to the arrival of Yuniang’s long time fiancé (Eddie Peng), whose has studied in London and now wears Western clothes and is working with the rail company to deliver a railroad through the village.