'Tai Chi Hero,' the sequel to 'Tai Chi Zero' is just as fun, if not more entertaining than the first outing. Keeping with the same style that mixes comedy, Tai Chi, steampunk, and video games, this sequel picks up right after the first film and it never drags. For fans of the first film and even newcomers, 'Tai Chi Hero' is worth checking out, as you've never seen anything quite like this. I'm hoping sometime this year or next, the third and final film in this trilogy will be released.
The first film centers around a peaceful village that has a strange and effective form of martial arts called Tai Chi. The villagers keep to themselves and tend to not let outsiders in too often. However, when an evil madman (Peter Stormare) and former villager Zijing show up to tear down the village in order to construct a railroad, things get a bit hairy. After a battle sequence with a giant tank that looks like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie, the peaceful villagers win the battle, and two strange people walk up to the village. That's where the first film ends and this one begins.
We center mostly on Lu Chan, a sort of village idiot who is hell-bent on learning the martial arts way of Tai Chi, and who we saw falling in love with the arrogant and whiny Yunia in the first film. As luck would have it, Yunia allows Lu Chan to marry her, even if he has to sleep on the floor. Those two strange people I mentioned above turn out not to be so strange after all, but rather Zaiyang, the son of the leader of the village, and his wife. Zaiyang has come back to the village to attend his sister's wedding to Lu Chan, but we soon realize he has a much different reason for being there.
That reason is if the two are to be married, the town will meet an impending doom, based on an ancient prophecy. After a few fights and a bit of comedy, the climax takes place near the village with the same enemies from the first film in an all-out war with man-to-man combat, as well as a new steampunk flying machine, manned by one person. The results are highly entertaining and comical. One thing 'Tai Chi Hero' does is show a father-son story, which tends to fly on the dramatic side of things, rather than comedy, and gives us a better background for some of the characters.
When you watch either this film or the one that came before it, you will definitely think of 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,' as the fight scenes, quick cuts, and comedy are very similar. We even get graphics similar to Scott Pilgrim popping up on screen throughout the film, giving it the video game aspect. The fight choreography is great as always, even when we find out that some of the cooler stunts are done by the way of a super mechanical suit in the vein of 'Iron Man.' The visual effects are top notch with the actors giving a fun performance. 'Tai Chi Hero' might not win any awards, but I bet you'll enjoy one hell of a thrill ride, one that you won't soon forget.
'Tai Chi Hero' comes with a gorgeous 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The detail is rich throughout, providing great closeups that define facial scars, dirt, and wrinkles on the actors. The rocky mountain terrain of the village is also rich in detail as well as the costumes of the actors, which clearly define stitching. Flesh tones come across natural and smooth with black levels running deep and inky.
The colors are rich and vibrant and tend to pop off the screen. The gold and silver of the steampunk styled machines shine well with the exteriors of the foreign land providing some nice greens, reds, and even grays. There is also some good depth in the image, giving the landscapes a full and breathtaking experience. I did not notice any banding or edge enhancement on this release, leaving this video presentation top notch.
This release comes with an impressive lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix in Mandarin and English. There are also stereo 2.0 mixes on this disc if you so desire. I'd stick with the Mandarin track, as the dubbed English version is silly. Heck, even some of the film is spoken in English. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand with no evidence of cracks, pops, or hissing.
The sound effects come across very well and use the surrounds quite often. The bigger action sequences pack a punch with all of the battle sounds and giant machines working. The directionality of these sounds are top notch as they are with some of the dialogue. The bass kicks in a few times and the score does a great job of adding suspense to each scene, while not drowning out any sound effects or dialogue. Lastly, the dynamic range is amazing here, giving this audio presentation a high score.
I had a ball with 'Tai Chi Hero,' as I did with the first film. It's pacing is good and the action sequences are top notch. Add to that the Scott Pilgrim aspect with a good amount of comedy, and you have one entertaining film. The video and audio presentations are top notch here with one solid extra. If you're already a fan, or even if you're new to the genre, 'Tai Chi Hero' is recommended.