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太極拳 (1996)
Tai Chi II

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/15/2005
Summary: Badly choreographed, expect for the Tai Chi.........

A young martial artist (Jacky Wu Jing from ‘The Legend of Zu’ and ‘Drunken Monkey’) is skilled in Tai Chi and lusts after Rose (Christy Chung from ‘The Red Wolf’, ‘Gen-Y-Cops’ and ‘The Medallion’), a Chinese suffragette who's campaigning for democracy amidst the infamous Opium Wars. The martial artist saves her from getting involved in a band of opium smugglers’ business, much to the dismay of an imperial officer and fiancé (Mark Cheng from ‘A Man Called Hero’ and ‘Wesley’s Mysterious Files’), who has to turn a blind eye to the evil opium smugglers activities. Eventually the martial artist ceases the opportunity to court the girl by facing off against her fiancée whilst correcting her opium-smoking father’s (Lau Shun from ‘Once Upon a Time in China IV and V’) bad ways, getting advice from his nosy mother (Sibelle Hu from ‘Fong Sai Yuk I’, ‘My Lucky Stars’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars’), being admired by the other pro-democracy rebels, warding off his dominant father’s interventions and his opponent (Billy Chow from ‘Eastern Condors’, ‘Once Upon a Time in China IV’ and ‘Fist of Legend’) and destroying the opium smugglers plans.

This movie contains great Tai Chi style fighting (including the use of a manchu-sytle ponytail as a whip) and shows how it can be lethally be used to overcome other forms of martial arts (unlike Jet Li’s limited portrayal of its use as a last tool in movies like ‘Kung Fu Cult Master’ and ‘Tai Chi Master’). Moreover, the plot is too traditional and focuses on family honour and pride most of the time whilst other romantic and comical occupy the rest of the movie with its playful nature. There are few serious moments in the movie and when these do occur their impact is not felt since other on-screen characters ruin the effect or the main villains are either a mixed bunch of raving lunatics or brain-dead zombies following orders most of the time. Also, the use of roller skates in a rebellious anti-traditional manner is not fitting since it carries no feeling of westernisation among the majority of the town/village dwellers or does not seem to have any major impact on them. Also, the film usually kills off or makes useless characters disappear when their purpose has been fulfilled and therefore the twists at these points do considerably dampen the effects of a surprise.

This movie is obviously a B-movie and contains no exhilarating environments, location sets or originality in any sense and too many useless foreigners turn up at every corner. Moreover, the character development is almost non-existent since most of them end up as they started without having evolved or learning any new ideas (such as the martial arts challenger who is always pursuing the father or son). Nevertheless, the cast list is barely recognisable which makes the movie somewhat watch-able. However, the main hero could have been a little older and wiser since he usually looks too immature and small in stature to lead the movie in any scene since this task is mainly dominated by his father or the fiancée of the Christy Chung. This feature was supposed to be a follow-up to Jet Li’s ‘Tai Chi Master’ but the differences are vast and so was re-named ‘Tai Chi II’ or ‘Tai Chi Boxer’ to start-off on a fresh page and not carry too much pressure. The final nemesis is also big, lacks any common-sense and is not much of a fighter (being more of a muscle-bound maniac than a quick, nimble strategist).

Overall, this movie carries plenty of flaws and the final showdown with the head foreign smuggler is not as enjoyable as some of the confrontations between experienced martial artists scattered throughout the movie. The one good thing about this movie is that they did not make a sequel!!!

Overall Rating: 6.0/10

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

The early to mid-1990's saw a huge burst in the wire-fu genre, brought about by such hits as 1991's Once Upon a Time in China. Like most popular movies in Hong Kong, the film was imitated so many times that it eventually soured audiences to movies of the type, mostly due to the fact that a lot of the films were, for the most part, interchangeable with each other. There always seemed to be a plucky young hero who knew a unique style of kung fu trying to save a beautiful damsel in distress, either from an evil Manchu warlord or a nasty gweilo carpetbagger.

Tai Chi II (which bears no relation to any other movie despite the Roman numerals in the title) came out towards the ends of the wire-fu fad, and has been labeled as a cheap attempt to make a last bit of cash from the genre. In fact, really the only reason a lot of gweilos might have seen it is that Tai Seng released it in the US after Yuen Woo-Ping hit it big following his work on The Matrix. Tai Chi II does have a bit of a generic vibe to it, but ultimately, it's a pretty decent wire-fu picture. The plot has Jacky Wu as the resident kung fu rascal being held down by his domineering dad who eventually uses his formidable kung fu skills to impress a comely lass (Christy Chung) while stopping a group of opium smugglers led by the mandatory evil gweilo (played by Darren Shahlavi in this instance).

The basic plot is bland to say the least, and it doesn't help matters any that the particulars are lifted from other movies. There's the stern dad and wiscracking mom from Drunken Master 2, there's the love interest that's Chinese but has Western mannerisms from Once Upon a Time in China, and so on. The action also seems a bit derivative as well. In particular, once again Once Upon a Time in China is referenced in the gravity-defying finale.

But, hey, this is Yuen Woo-Ping heading the proceedings here, so the action's top-notch. The movie's low budget hurts the fights in parts, as wires are visbile in several shots during the film, but overall, this is really tight stuff. Even the gimmick of Jacky using his queue (long hair braid) as a weapon (which could have easily turned cheesy) was pulled off with some style. The action can't totally forgive the sometimes cruddy and overly-syrupy exposition scenes, but it does make them bearable.

Tai Chi II isn't the most mind-blowing movie you're likely to see. However, for die-hard fight fanatics, it's much better than yet another trip to the new release shelf at your local video store. Even a slightly above average HK action movie from this time is much better than a lot of the so-called "blockbusters" being put out nowadays.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 08/24/2003

Tai Chi Boxer was one of the last of the wire-fu movies that followed in the wake of Once Upon A Time In China, the film to which it obviously aspires. Yuen Wo Ping directs and choreographs the action, and the film introduced new actor Jacky Wu, as a young kid who gets caught up in a battle with opium smugglers and corrupt officials. The film is chock full of fight scenes, and they are quite simply fantastic. Jacky Wu is a really impressive martial artist, sharing a very similar pedigree to Jet Li. Yuen Wo Ping is on top form as well, with the mixture of Tai Chi-influenced moves and OUATIC-style wire stunts being amongst his best work, though it features some of the least well hidden wires I've ever seen. Wu certainly doesn't have the screen presence or acting ability of Jet Li, but to be honest his fighting is probably better. It's something a mystery why Jacky disappeared after Tai Chi Boxer, and didn't resurface until he played a small part in Legend Of Zu 5 years later. Perhaps it just wasn't the right time for a martial artist to be making films in Hong Kong... he's still young though, so maybe there's hope for him yet. I haven't seen him in Drunken Monkey yet, but hopefully he's still got the moves.

edit: ah, a quick check at his website reveals he was pretty active in TV in between movies!


Anyway, Tai Chi II doesn't seem to be too popular even with the genre fans, but I think it deserves more credit than it usually gets. Sure it's not up to the same overall quality as OUATIC, but it's still a thoroughly worthwhile entry in the wire-fu halls of fame. The only real problem with it is that the visible wires - it's a shame HKL couldn't have done a bit of wire removal when they were restoring the print.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/09/2003
Summary: This film flowed nicely....

I am a sucker for any Kung-fu films with Tai Chi in. This one was a good effort though, I really enjoyed it, the characters were very nice and the action spot on. The whole affair has a very 'Once upon a time in China' feel, whilst adding some nice touches of it's own. Well worth a watch.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 11/04/2002
Summary: A breath of fresh air

In 1996, Mainland's new martial arts sensation Jacky Wu Jing teamed up with the industry's most effective action choreographer and director Yuen Wo Ping to make one of the last great martial arts movies of Hong Kong. The result is a light-hearted wuxia film with dynamic action.

The story takes place around the turn of the last century, when foreigners have occupied several Chinese ports and opium was the widespread disease. One master of tai chi, Yang, decides to retire in order to give his son an opportunity to study. They move to a new place, but instead of teaching his son tai chi, Yang locks up him up in his room and forces him to read Chinese classics. One day, the young boy Hawk sneaks out and by chance meets the overseas-educated daughter of the local port governor who goes by the English name of Rose. The story unfolds as Hawk further pursues Rose. In fact, she has democratic values and is promoting this concept to her fellow Chinese. After a discovering the British's scheme to smuggle more opium into China, Hawk and Rose unite together to cease the spread of opium. Rose also has to help her dad quit opium. But when the British kill Rose's ex-fiance and points the finger at Hawk, can the new couple avoid punishable death, and can they overcome the British's evildoing--as well as an expert kicker from the past?

As a genre lover, one can be sure that Tai Chi II will not be a disappointment. It features dynamic action, which is the best thing about the movie. Legendary kicker Billy Chow (Fist of Legend) shows off his skills in several well-staged fight scenes, and Mark Cheng (Peking Opera Blues) and Wu Jing each proves his ability. Even if you are not a fan of the martial arts genre, you can appreciate the work put into choreographing this period piece. One point of interest is the similarities between the end fights in this movie and in "Once Upon a Time in China 1". Both take place in a big warehouse, and both feature fights on ladders. In addition, in both movies the Caucasian villain takes the Chinese official as hostage.

In contrast to the great "Once Upon a Time in China," "Tai Chi II" is a few notches below. Nevertheless, it has plenty to offer. Wu Jing's profile has been on the rise in the TV industry lately, having made several successful kung fu series. Fans of Jacky (who also goes by Jason) will be satified by his performance here. Christy Chung, whose acting ability is questionable, gives an acceptable performance as the classy daughter of the official. If this movie brought in Sharla Cheung Man for the role, it would have been even better.

One need not worry about the "sentimentality" of this movie. The story is intented to be taken lightly, and there is almost no emotional scene. This is actually a good thing, because almost every previous wuxia movie has been openly sentimental. So this is a good change. The plot could have benefitted from a few more polishment, as the execution is not very effective.

In a Nutshell...

Tai Chi II is a good period martial arts film in the best tradition of the genre-definers such as Once Upon a Time in China and Iron Monkey. Any fan of the genre should enjoy it. The film is, however, NOT a sequel to Jet Li's "Tai Chi Master," which is also directed by Yuen Wo Ping.


Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/29/2001
Summary: Pretty good

When i watched this, i as pretty suprised that i enjoyed this!! This is not a serious film! It has lots of comedy and action. Reminded me off a good old Jackie Chan film actually!!
Jacky Wu plays his role perfected, as a young man who gets into mischief.
Billy Chow and Mark Cheung are the known actors in this.

Highly entertaining and a movie for all the family to watch. Very underrated!!


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Trigger
Date: 05/13/2001
Summary: Highly entertaining

I really enjoyed this film and once again I seem to be going against the grain. I found the characters interesting and the love story amusing and the action was outstanding. This film doesn't have any superstars, but it was well-paced, well-directed, and well-acted for an action film. It also had a decent plot - at least it wasn't completely made up as they went along like some films.

Seen on: DVD
Release: Tai Seng
Rating: Movie - 7.5/10

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Ash
Date: 02/04/2001
Summary: Some interesting wire enhanced fights but really bad acting and a crappy story

Jacky Wu (former student of the beijing wushu team, who formed Jet li) plays Jackie: a young man that has to fight opium dealers. Most of the time, the fights look quite nice but the acting is so terrible (particularly from the white villain). There is also a cheap love story between Christy Chung and Jacky Wu and sometimes you can even see the cables in the fight scenes, particularly in the final fight. This movie deserves a 7.5/10 just because of the action sequences, nicely choreographed by one of the great: Yuen Woo ping.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

A Tai Chi master (played by the Sifu from Shaolin Temple) decidesto move his wife (Sibelle Hu) and son (played by cinema newcomer Wu Jing) into seclusion to properly raise his son (Hawk-Man), who he forces to study all day long with his pig-tail tied to the ceiling so he can't fall asleep. As the son matures he develops great fighting skill especially using his super-strong pig-tail stance. Hawk-man sneaks out of the house and ends up helping damsel in distress Christy Chung. Christy's Imperial Official Fiance (Mark Cheng) doesn't approve of their new friendship and conflict ensues. The real villains are foreign opium smugglers however. The movie ends with a VERY Once Upon a Time in China-eque fight in a warehouse with lots of ladders and planks and bounching around. There is a good deal of stringwork in this movie, but there is also a lot of genuine wushu from Wu Jing, who is a member of the Beijing Wushu Team (Jet Li's alma mater). Actually the original pre-release title was supposed to be "Pig Tail Stance Master" or something along those lines. It also contains (sorry I don't know their names, but maybe you can match it up) Wong Fei Hong's Dad from the Once Upon a Time in China series as Christy Chung's dad, the bad guy from Fist of Legend (and High Risk, King of Adventure, etc), as the 'King of Kicks', the bald, no eyebrowed guy from Fong Sai Yuk 2 as a bad guy, and that guy who was Jet Li's Sifu in Shaolin Temple as Wu Jing's dad.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

No, it's not a sequel to Tai Chi Master. Instead, it's a movie that shows how the brilliance of director Yuen Woo Ping can overcome certain pitfalls (like a very un-original plot, a lead actor that can't act, and the worst soundtrack I have ever heard in my life). Wu Jing, the star, is a fine martial artist, but if he was any less an actor, he'd be Charlie White (don't ask, look it up). The one thing this film has going for it are some excellently shot, excellently executed martial arts sequences. Imagine my score if it had anything else in it worth mentioning.


[Reviewed by Dale Whitehouse]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

It's a return to historical Kung Fu movies (directed by the renowned Yuen Woo-Ping, of Fist of Legend fame). The movie is full of excellent and lengthy kung fu and tai chi sequences, mostly by the talented young Jacky Wu. Jacky plays the nephew of stern, martial arts master Yang (who favors the tai chi invincible fist), who goes into seclusion so as to educate his son. But Jacky yearns to know the outside world, and does so, encountering opium smugglers and anti-British revolutionaries. Not a great film, but a really pleasurable one, nonetheless.

[Reviewed by Eduardo in NY]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Cheap, paint-by-the-numbers kung fu movie, replete with every imaginable cliche - right down to the caveman-like gwailo with absurdly powerful martial arts. (BTW, the hero's Tai Chi is Yang style.) Nothing new or involving here.

[Reviewed by Iain Sinclair]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

The two sons of the great Tai Chi master stumble into a powder keg when they save two virgin girls from a primitive tribal sacrifice -- mostly at the urging of Christy Chung; she's parading for democracy in a 19th century China in the middle of the Opium wars, and seems quite taken with the teenage kung-fu master (Jacky Wu) who finds more than one opportunity to save her life. Her fiancee (Mark Cheng) is a pawn in the drug trade, and he's pretty much lost out on the battle for the girl's hand. Jacky seals the deal with Christy with a hilarious tai chi tango at a local ball; but most of the movie action occurs in the ending fight scene -- a mixture of kung fu, tai chi, barefisted boxing, and acrobatics in which limber Jackie maneuvers between ropes in an opium warehouse like a spider! He wins victory, delivers the criminals to justice, and wins the girl! The film's a lighthearted adolescent fantasy, for the most part ridiculous, but brightened by solid martial arts action and, of course, Christy. Sibelle Hu plays Jacky's mom, and here she looks amazingly like Brigitte Lin.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 6