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Tai Chi Hero: BD Review

Aug 12th, 2013

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This Jayden Yuan martial arts sequel has its moments, but it still doesn't completely entertain...

Well Go USA / 100 Minutes / Unrated / Street Date: July 2, 2013

It doesn't take long to figure out exactly which direction Tai Chi Hero is headed. Jayden Yuan is back as the mysterious stranger in a small village in 19th century Asia who comes close to learning the intricacies of the magical martial arts secrets that the village has vowed never to share with outsider, but never seals the deal. He fights for them, falls in love with them (well, just one lucky lady named Yunia, but still…), but he’s still a stranger in a strange land – even if he’s the township’s go-to ass-kicker.

Every twist and turn of Tai Chi Hero, like its predecessor, Tai Chi Zero(which was itself supposedly the first installment of a trilogy), is plainly visible ten minutes out, and while predictability isn't necessarily a killer in movies like this one, Hero doesn't make much of a case for itself. The photography here is marvelous, and there's at least a modicum of thrill whenever it becomes time for an extensive fight sequence, but as a whole, this one continues to feel limply familiar rather than vivid and enthralling.

Yet even as a goofy one-off, Tai Chi Hero should be more diverting than it is. Tony Leung is back as one of Yuan’s least trustworthy fellow warriors – he’s a blast – and even Peter Stormare returns as a mean-ass North American who wants to milk the town and its surrounding areas for all the blood money they’re worth with gusto and scenery-chewing fortitude. But things go from bad to worse when you realize that the impression is that the people on screen in front of you seem to be having a way better time making their thin little movie than you’re having watching it: after an epiphany like that occurs, it’s hard to stick with it. 

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