Tai Chi Zero

 

Tai Chi Zero

Story by Chen Kuofu

Screenplay by Cheng Hsaio Tse & Zhang Jialu

Production Design: Yip Kam Tim

Photography by Ngor Chi Kwan, Lai Yiu Fai & Du Jie

Visual Effects: Chas Chau Chi Shing, Kim Ho Pui Kin & Ng Yuen Fai

Edited by Cheng Hsaio Tse, Mathew Hui, Zhang Jialu & Zhang Weili

Sound Mixing by Traithep Wongpaiboon & Nopawat Likitwong

Music by Katsunori Ishida

Costumes by Liu Xuequn

Casting Director: Kang Xuequing

Produced by Wang Zhong Jun

Action Director: Sammo Hung

Directed by Stephen Fung

Theatrical Release: 2012

 

Cast:

Jayden Yuan

Angelababy

Eddie Peng Yu-Yen

Tony Leung Ka Fai

Mandy Lieu

Feng Tsui-Fan

Feng Hak-On

Bruce Leung Siu-Lung

Andrew Lau Wai Keung

Shu Qi


Production Studio:

Theatrical: Diversion Pictures

Video: Well Go Entertainment

 

Video

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD25

Feature Size: 18.22 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate (17~26 Mbps)

Runtime: 98 minutes

Chapters: 12

Region: A

 

Audio:

Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

English (dub) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

 

Subtitles:

Optional English or Chinese

 

Extras

• Behind the Zenes - in SD (5:40 min)

• MuZic VideoZ - in SD (3:50 min)

• Theatrical Trailers

• Well Go Trailers

 

Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case: BRD x 1

Street Date: January 22, 2013



Synopsis (Well Go):

As an uncommonly gifted child, Yang Luchan had a fleshy abnormality that holds tremendous power growing on his forehead. Teased as the town fool, Yang’s mother spurs him to practice martial arts and, following a stint in the rebel army, Yang travels to Chen Village to learn a unique form of Kung Fu. To his chagrin LuChan discovers that it is forbidden for a villager to teach their Kung Fu to an outsider. The locals discourage Yang by challenging him with fights. From the strong men to hold ladies to children, everyone defeats Yang with their unusual moves. After being defeated by Master Chen’s beautiful daughter Yuniang, Yang is determined to find Master Chen and master this martial art form.


One day, a frightening steam-powered machine came to the village, lead by Fang Zijing, a childhood friend of Yuniang. He has persuaded government officials to permit him to build a railway that will run straight through the village. Yang decideds to join forces with Yuniang to defeat Fang Zijing and destroy the machine.


     


LensViews:

The Movie: 6

Aside from poetic wonders such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the use of wires  in Chinese martial arts movies often borders on the comic, often intentionally.  It would seem that Stephen Fung wants to take Stephen Chow several steps further in outrageous comedy.  If only Fung had a coherent script to work with.  You might think that if you’re going to make an over-the-top comedy then the screenplay needn’t make much sense.  The opposite is true.  Tai Chi Zero could have benefitted greatly from having nixed the entire love story between Eddie Peng and Mandy Lieu, which seems to come out of nowhere and is poorly directed and acted to boot.  Much better would have been to have Peng’s character be driven by his self-ostracism from his home village.


     


Just as important is casting. The aim of the producers is to capitalize on the youth market with attractive, young pop stars.  Sometimes that works, as is the case with Angelababy, who can actually act as well as project a charisma worth being charmed by.  But the others, Jayden Yuan, Eddie Peng and Mandy Lieu, simply can’t carry a scene, made all the more noticeable when place anywhere near anyone in this film over the age of 40.  Those criticisms aside, the visuals are often dazzling, if not especially innovative, and the comedy and use of comic-book graphics is worth a smile.  Several.


     


Critical Press:

New York Post

“Tai Chi Zero” is loads of fun to watch, especially a battle in which watermelons, bananas and other fruits and veggies serve as flying weapons. When new characters are introduced, screen titles list his or her real name and the name of their character, along with what the actor is best known for. Stick around for the closing credits, which are accompanied by a trailer for a “Tai Chi Zero” sequel. – V.A. Musetto


    

 

Boston Globe

‘Tai Chi Zero” may be the first movie to come with its own Wiki. A comically hyperstylized martial arts fandango from director Stephen Fung, the film introduces each of its characters with onscreen titles that list not only the actors but their chief claims to fame: “Fung Hak-On, founding member of Jackie Chan’s stunt team,” “Xiong Xin Xin, ‘Ghost Leg Seven’ from the ‘Once Upon a Time in China’ series.” Whenever a fight breaks out, labels name the moves, “Pop Up Video”-style: “Monkey Offering Fruit,” “Crossed Lotus,” “Lazily Touching the Robe.” A journey from desert to mountain appears to be in Google Street View. Apparently, they shot this movie through a browser. All this manic invention is great fun for a while, until “Tai Chi Zero” falls apart on the rocks of the eternal verities: story, acting, direction.


     


Director Fung keeps us off guard with breathless change-ups in cinematic style — silent film, animation, steampunk, spaghetti western. At about the midpoint, though, “Tai Chi Zero” settles into a different movie and a more boring one, about the vengeful village nerd (Eddie Peng) and his attempts to ram a new railway through town. A giant iron tank lays siege to the heroes, with Lu Chan, his ladylove (an actress named Angelababy, just about the best thing in the film), and her fighting-master father (Hong Kong movie legend Tony Leung Ka Fai) doing their best to monkey-wrench the invaders.


As the hero, Yuan is never able to muster more than one facial expression, and Malaysian-American model Mandy Lieu is laughably wooden as a coldhearted killer. Even the fights aren’t convincing — despite being choreographed by actor-director Sammo Hung — because the hectic editing and camerawork rarely let us see what’s happening in anything like real time and space. The martial arts genre has become a form as rigidly stylized as Chinese opera or Japanese Noh, and it may be time for an enterprising filmmaker to bring things back to zero with uncompromising realism. – Ty Burr


    

 

Slant Magazine

Tai Chi Zero toggles between syrupy melodrama and crunchy violence pretty comfortably, regularly breaking the fourth wall to call out its characters' intentions for an easy laugh. The film seems to exist beyond history, factual or cinematic. . . The film invites comparison to Stephen Chow's work, but Fung and his crew have no interest in Chow's meticulous choreography or eye for stark composition. Shots are short, shallow, and glitzy, and fight sequences are chopped up one blow at a time—or, worse, chopped up and digitally augmented, a la House of Flying Daggers. While the plot is as simple and time-honored (read: flimsy) as has ever existed in martial-arts movies, there's a semi-admirable, ultimately deadening impatience to the movie's flow. Tai Chi Zero ends practically mid-scene, only to run a two-minute long trailer for its already-shot sequel, Tai Chi Hero, over its sped-up end credits. The edit probably got a lot of laughter from the filmmakers, but the movie never takes its flippancy to the point of daring. – Steve Macfarlane


     


Image: 9/9

There is so much CGI in this film that it makes an honest appraisal of image quality difficult.  Still, I think it’s fair to say that the overall impression is one of enhanced visual dynamics, with sharp and deeply saturated graphics and detailed facial and fabric textures.  Effects can be grainy, as is appropriate for the occasion.  I observed no transfer anomalies of concern.

 

Audio & Music: 8/5

Well Go offers both the original Mandarin language track in uncompressed 5.1 surround as well as an English dub for those with difficulty with language other than English.  The sound mixing is pretty good, with swishing cues from every direction as arrows, fruits and vegetables fly and bodies careen into walls and fall on a variety of surfaces.  Dialogue and music is sensibly woven in as well.  Nothing remarkable but neither is anything distractingly out of place. There is sufficient heft in the bass and a surprising absence of treble hysteria even during the various explosions.


     

 

Extras: 2

In addition to a couple of theatrical trailers for Tai Chi Zero in HD a few Well Go previews, also in HD, Well Go presents a short EPK piece titled “Behind the Zenes” that tells us about the intention of the filmmakers to appeal to “young audiences” as if this somehow was lacking in martial arts films.  My guess is that this appeal comes primarily in the form of the three leads: 2008 Wushu champion, Jayden Yuan, who looks scarcely 19, pop model/actresses “Angelababy” and Mandy Lieu, as well as the young Taiwanese/Canadian TV/movie actor Eddie Peng.  Scattered attention, too, is paid to the creation of the large scale mechanical Trojan “Monster”. The music video is very garden variety stuff with clips from the movie carelessly slipped into a trio of Chinese rappers going through the motions.


     

 

Recommendation: 6

The movie’s narrative is hit and miss.  I rather enjoyed the comedy and martial arts sequences but attempts to create a secondary love story fell flat.  Image quality is excellent and the Mandarin 5.1 audio is suitable.  Be forewarned that the movie segues in mid-thought before any kind of conclusion into a promotional preview for the sequel, Tai Chi Hero, expected out later this year.  Recommended along with an evening of beer and pizza, but probably has limited rewatchable appeal.


     



Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

January 7, 2013



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