Back in January, I reviewed a steampunk/martial-arts hybrid film titled TAI CHI ZERO (click here to read that review), which is the first of a trilogy. I complimented the film on its originality and fast-paced action. The second film of the trilogy, TAI CHI HERO, is available now and is definitely a worthy follow-up to the original. With higher stakes and even wilder fight scenes, this second film will have you begging for the third and final film to come out!
If you are not familiar with TAI CHI HERO, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:
Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan) is still trying to find his place in Chen Village, the legendary town where everyone is a martial arts master…and Chen-style Tai Chi is forbidden to outsiders. But since he helped save the town from a frightening steam-powered machine, Yuniang (Angelababy), beautiful daughter of Grandmaster Chen (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), agrees to marry Lu Chan and bring him into the family. It’s only a formality, though – and that suits Lu Chan just fine, as the mutant horn on his head gives him incredible kung-fu power, but leaves him dumber each time, and closer to death. Chen Village still stands in the shadow of danger. A prodigal brother returns, Lu Chan’s presence invokes a curse on the town, and Yuniang’s scorned fiancée has an appetite for revenge, as well as some new partners in crime. The second in a trilogy from the creators of Ip Man and Detective Dee, and featuring action directed by the legendary Sammo Hung, TAI CHI HERO is a full-on, steampunk-infused, video game-influenced kung fu throw-down that will knock you out of your seat.
I can’t decide if I like the first or second film better. Both are excellent in their own regards and have high re-watch factors. But both also have their own distinctions. The first is revolutionary with its story; I believe it is the first ever steampunk film to integrate martial-arts action. But the second film broadens the storyline and introduces new characters, along with new threats and villains. This is accomplished while keeping the original plot in place, making for a cohesive and enjoyable sequel.
TAI CHI HERO is shot well and the acting is great. But what really makes an impression on the audience is the action. I never get tired of wire-work when it is well done, as is the case here. The kicks are high, the punches are fast and the fight choreography reaches new heights. If you’re not breathless after watching the final battle, then you probably don’t have a pulse.
I like how more back-story is given in this film as well; we find out more about previous happenings in regard to Lu Chan as well as the Grand Master of the village. This is integral for the story, as it shows us who they really are as people.
The steampunk in TAI CHI HERO is amped up a bit as well. Instead of a mechanized steam-powered tank, we get to see a steam-driven flying machine. This is interesting because the craft resembles a sketch of Leonardo DaVinci’s I once saw at a museum. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but it made me grin nonetheless.
TAI CHI HERO is a true win for me, and I cannot wait to see how the third and final film shapes up. The very ending of this film gives us an idea of what to expect, and WOW…I’m literally on the edge of my seat just thinking about the possibilities! I highly recommend giving this film and its predecessor a look.