Updates on Jet Li's "Tai Chi" Trilogy, Keanu's "Man of Tai Chi," and Donnie Yen's "Special Identity"

Posted 11:34 PM February 29th, 2012 by Senh Duong
Tai Chi Master

I’ve been wondering what Jet Li would work on after “The Expendables 2,” but news on that front have been kind of quiet. I opened up my favorite HK film site and was reminded that Li had signed up for Stephen Fung’s “Tai Chi” a while back.

Don’t know who Stephen Fung is? Don’t sweat it. He used to be an up-and-coming actor in Hong Kong. As a star in “Gen-X Cops” and its sequel “Gen-Y Cops,” I thought he was ok. He's decent screen fighter. After not going anywhere in front of the camera, he’s directing his energy behind it.

As the writer/director of “House of Fury,” I wasn’t impressed by Fung either, even with Yuen Woo-Ping doing the fight scenes. It wasn't bad, just not good.

Now, he’s directing Jet Li in “Tai Chi,” so I’ll lower my expectations a bit. I like “Tai Chi Master,” which paired Li with Michelle Yeoh. I’ve never seen the Tai Chi style done so well on film before. Li was fluid, but deadly. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in another Tai Chi movie. Looks like I’ll get three more.

Fung’s “Tai Chi” is a trilogy, and he’s shooting all three back-to-back-to-back, ala Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. No wonder Li’s been kinda quiet.

That’s great news to me. According to the article, Fung has already finished shooting the first two installments and is currently working on the third.

“Tai Chi” is a period piece, in contrast to Keanu Reeve’s “Man of Tai Chi,” which takes place in a modern setting. I have to say that although I’m looking forward to Li’s trilogy more, I’m more interested to see how Reeve’s film turns out. It's his directorial debut, and he's playing the villain.

Another martial arts film currently in production in China is Donnie Yen’s “Special Identity,” which pairs him with Vincent Zhao (“Fong Sai-Yuk,” “Once Upon a Time in China IV”). It’s currently shooting in Shenzhen, China and will head to Hong Kong afterwards. These shoots involve car crashes and helicopters. Yen’s character is an undercover cop. It’s good to see Yen in a modern actioner again.

I'm curious to see how "Special Identity" will do at the box office. Although Yen's recent modern cop actioners like "SPL" and "Flash Point" have been popular with international action fans, they haven't done well at the local box office. Will his new superstar status finally bring people out to see them? I hope so because I'm getting tired of his period films, even though must of them - like "Wu Xia" - have been quite good.

"SPL," to me, was the first thrilling integration of mixed martial arts techniques into fight choreography in movies. "Flash Point" was a great extension of that. I'm hoping to see more of that in "Special Identity," along with the pyrotechnics and mayhem that a $20M budget can bring. $20M doesn't sound like much here in the States, but in HK/China, that's a huge budget. I think "SPL" and "Flash Point" were made for less than $5M each.

UPDATE 3/22:
Although Jet Li was attached to "Tai Chi" when it was first announced, it isn't clear in what capacity. On IMDB, he's only listed as the producer and NOT the star.

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Senh created and operated Rotten Tomatoes out of his apartment at one point before coming together with friends to turn it into a real company. He's back to doing what he loves with Movies With Butter.

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