Tai ji quan
- 1h 26min
When not studying Tai Chi under the tutelage of Old Yeung, Ku Ding works as part of a crew building roads. When he and his colleagues are cheated out of half their money by corrupt foreman T... Read allWhen not studying Tai Chi under the tutelage of Old Yeung, Ku Ding works as part of a crew building roads. When he and his colleagues are cheated out of half their money by corrupt foreman Tang Hoi Hay (acting on behalf of his boss Master Jin), Wu Bing Lien protests on behalf of ... Read allWhen not studying Tai Chi under the tutelage of Old Yeung, Ku Ding works as part of a crew building roads. When he and his colleagues are cheated out of half their money by corrupt foreman Tang Hoi Hay (acting on behalf of his boss Master Jin), Wu Bing Lien protests on behalf of the group, only to get a beating for his troubles. Ku Ding intervenes and takes the beatin... Read all
The pre-title sequence informs us that this will be a film focusing on the art of Tai Chi – a style which is known to many but mostly for being practiced by older people in the park rather than being a martial art. I was not exactly thrilled by this but was interested to see how it set about showing me another side to it – the side demonstrated by the master in the opening. The earliest action scene in the film is essentially Ku Ding taking a beating and not fighting back – which is something his master then praises even if his own daughter thinks it was stupid. I have to say at this point I am agreeing with Ah Jen. The majority of the film is essentially this same scene played out in different ways because the plot is that Ku Ding takes more and more beatings but commits himself to pacifism and tolerance until he eventually goes for it and gives us a boss fight using his Tai Chi.
The nature of the "beatings" he takes vary as they involve the death of those close to him by different means, which is not a lot of fun to watch because it is all one-way traffic with limited action. It feels a little unpleasant as well, which is not helped by the tasteless rape scene, where the camera zooms in and out on parts of Ah Bao in a way that suggests it is trying to titillate. It feels wrong – to spend that much time on it but not make it repel the viewer at the same time. This lack of tone also affects the main story. Considering so much of the film is about the peaceful flow to Tai Chi, I expected it to have something to say on that particularly since so much of the film is lacking action. Instead it focuses on the action it can get (the cruel acts) and leaves any soul-searching till the very last line (at which point it doesn't make sense or have time to do anything). It is an odd film in this way because it does little with the themes but instead plays out an action story but with one side of the story not willing to take part – with no content to hold the attention and very little action to fill the gap, it feels like an awkward waiting game.
This hurts Chen Wo-fu's performance as he seems held back from doing anything other than showing bottled up anger. The villains have more fun with typically "evil laugh" turns from Frankie Wei and Yeung Chak-Lam. In the female roles I enjoyed Shih Szu as she had a bit of spirit in her character and good moves, but Chan Mei Hua gets little thanks for her performance and has that badly handled rape sequence to get through. The final fight is good but to be honest by this point I was tired of what the film was or wasn't doing and the final throwback to the struggle between peace and conflict just annoyed me by reminding me that it hadn't done this at all well. Perhaps it is worth a look but I personally found it very dull with lots of words and story that wasn't delivered well, and very little in the way of action to distract from it.
- bob the moo
- Jan 1, 2014