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The Tai Chi Master (HK 1993)

Director : Yuen Woo Ping
Cast : Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Siu-hou Chin, Fennie Yuen, Cheung-Yan Yuen, Shun Lau and Hai Yu.

Synopsis
Jet Li was a monk in Shaolin. In a friendly competition for a higher place in Shaolin, he was betrayed and framed for using weapons (which cannot be used in the competition). He and his friend got kicked out of the Shaolin. They met rebellions at that time of China. His friend betrayed Jet Li and his rebellion friends for money from the China government. Jet Li went crazy and discovered the art of Tai Chi at the recover period. Revenge seem to the only thing he is going to do.

Review
by Edward Tang

I bought a Jet Li pack that was sent out by Dimension a few years back. It included most of his classics, butchered and without the original language track. For the most part, these “versions” were pretty decent with good picture, but basically fuckin’ up what the film was, cutting scenes and replacing the dialog. But “Tai Chi Master” or as it’s known here “Twin Warriors” still remained my favorite Jet Li flick, just because it had great fight scenes, and good characters for one thing. Michelle Yeoh is a great presence (for what she is given in her short role), and made movies like Police Story 3 and Tomorrow Never Dies worth seeing, and in this as well. Yuen Wo-Ping directed this flick, and you can tell, the fight scenes are some of my favorite, not because they standout like your Jackie Chan/Benny “The Jet” style, but they just are loads of fun. The story is average but the characters are pretty damn cool, I especially thought that Siu-hou Chin (Chin Bo) had a great transition to the main villain of the film. But this film remains as one of my favorites, for the sheer fact that it never gets old. Plus you get to see Jet Li act like a crazy and talk to ducks.

I’ve had so many people talk to me and tell me how this film is a big piece of shit. Then I find out that they watched the dubbed version. Don’t get me wrong, the film is basically corn and the dramatic scenes can basically be thrown out the window if you choose to follow the dubbed version. The original version isn’t a dramatic masterpiece either, but it is far more better than what Dimension decided to throw at me. The story is simple, two students get kicked out of the Shaolin Temple and go to the streets. They are taken in by a woman who they saved, who happens to be a rebel. Jet’s character is the peaceful one and Chin’s character is the one who wants all the power. So as you know it, Jet goes with the rebels, and Chin goes with the army. Chin becomes powerful and eventually it gets to his head. Jet can’t believe that Chin turns on him, so he goes crazy (yeah). To cure his craziness (HE IS CER-RAZY) he learns Tai-Chi and eventually goes and kills Chin.

Jet is a clown in this film, if you are a expecting a Fist of Legend type from the great one, don’t look here. Now the crazy scenes in general always make me laugh for some strange reason because as I’m laughing my head is telling me that “this isn’t funny.” Ah yes, Jet grows out the long luscious locks for this role as well, and succeeds through his hero role. Michelle Yeoh is always worth having in a film, even if her part is minor. She plays second-string to Jet in this flick and stays that way for the entire film. Unlike her stealing the screen when she worked with Jackie Chan (who rules), she wasn’t as big as a part in this flick. But don’t get me wrong, her fight later down the road was great, and she is worth what time she is on the screen. Siu-hou Chin plays the major bad guy in the flick, and I actually liked his performance. His character actually had a plot, instead of just falling into things. The character on the spot, never made a weird decision to become powerful. Chin and Jet have good chemistry, and when you see there fight at the end, everything gets thrown to the shed, and they deliver the goods.

Yuen-Wo Ping is a great action director (didn’t see that fucker did ya?) and this film shows his greatness. Wire work usually pisses me off, I hate flying around and shit like that. But in this film, it is used to the right extent. Some of the fight scenes are just so good, I actually do rewind them to watch them again. When Michelle Yeoh was fighting the General, that fight scene looked good and was completely full of awesome moves, and unique characteristics. But the scene in general that I will always love will have to belong to the fight between Chin and Jet when they are fighting on the wood pile, that fight in general was great because it maintained the balance of the fighters and the delivery of those harsh blows. Amongst all of it, this film looks really good, and shows what Yuen-Wo Ping can do when he is behind the camera. I mean take the basic story apart and you’ve got kung-fu student learns a “special” technique to defeat his foe. I guess you could sum it up to that, but some of the visuals, mostly when Jet is utilizing his new found skills (making those leaves come together) are just plain gravy. That’s a good thing.

This film is one of my favorites because it has everything I want in a film. It has a great cast of characters, a good enough story, and shitloads of action sequences done by the best action director of all time. It’s a shame that they haven’t made a DVD that is quality to what this film dishes out (the other version isn’t the best). See it, the film contains three superstars working under the same sheet and everything falls out the way that it should. They made a Tai Chi II, which had little to do with this flick, and sucked. Take this in, everything looks good and hey, you can take a look at Jet Li drinking water off the ground, that has to be better than him fighting himself in the future and kicking the shit out of Mel Gibson right? This is a MUST SEE flick of the genre, and worth every penny.

Rating
Plot : 3/5
Acting : 3/5
Entertainment : 5/5
Overall : 4/5

Notable Scenes
- Jun Bao and Chin Bo fighting off the Shaolin monks
- Jun Bao vs. Chin Bo in the finale

Buy this movie at YesAsia – Taichi Master

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