THE TAI CHI MASTER
(Tai Ji Zhang San Feng)
The Tai Chi Master is not an overtly fantastic film that is to say by dint of any of its subject matter but must surely be classified as such for its wholly fantastique martial arts sequences. Hong Kong martial arts films regularly feature people flying by bouncing off trees and walls and such physically impossible acrobatics as having combatants twirling around one another and exchanging sword blows in mid-air. There are some breathtaking martial set-pieces in the film four people versus an entire army of swordsmen; two unarmed men versus an entire monastery of monks armed with staves; two opponents exchanging sword blows around the sides of a wooden tower; two women fighting, one balanced atop a table as the legs are being chopped out from under it. The action is leavened by a delightfully light slapstick hand and all in all The Tai Chi Master is an unpretentious joy.
Yuen Wo-Ping is a legendary Hong Kong fight coordinator who did work on films such as Once Upon a Time in China (1991) and sequels, The Twin Dragons (1992), Fist of Legend (1994), Black Mask (1996), Kung Fu Hustle (2004) and Fearless (2006), as well as Western films such as The Matrix and Kill Bill films. Yuen has directed a number of films on his own with the likes of Snake in the Eagles Shadow (1976), Legend of a Fighter (1982), The Miracle Fighters (1982), Dragons vs Vampires (1986), Iron Monkey (1993), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016), The Thousand Faces of Dunjia (2017) and in particular the hit of Drunken Master (1978), which made Jackie Chans reputation.
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