Stephen Fung’s “Tai Chi Zero” Wins Favorable Reviews

Stephen Fung’s (馮德倫) 3D steampunk action comedy, Tai Chi Zero <太極1從零開始>, is currently the number one film in both mainland China and Taiwan. The film topped the box office on its first day of release on September 27, and has raked in over $60 million RMB as of October 5, 2012. The sequel of Tai Chi ZeroTai Chi Hero <太極2英雄崛起>, is scheduled for a release on October 25, 2012 in mainland China and Hong Kong. The sequel will premiere in Taiwan on October 26, 2012.

“Tai Chi Zero” Synopsis

A Huayi Brothers film, the Tai Chi film series is directed by Stephen Fung, produced by Taiwanese filmmaker, Chen Kuo Fu (陳國富), and choreographed by the internationally acclaimed, Sammo Hung (洪金寶). Incorporated with kung fu, Hong Kong action, western steampunk, and video game elements, Tai Chi Zero has gained a large local and international following before the official release of the film.

The film takes place in the later years of the Qing Dynasty, and centers on a poor peasant boy Yang Luchan (Yuan Xiaochao 袁晓超), who was born with a peculiar demon horn sprouting from his forehead. Poorly educated, weird, and unintelligent, his fellow villagers never expected that the boy would soon become the country’s most powerful martial artist.

A doctor came to Yang’s village and recognized the horn growing from his forehead, a phenomenon that only happens once every century. Yang is gifted with photographic memory – he is able to memorize and perform any martial arts technique and skill with just once look. When the horn on his forehead darkens, he becomes undefeatable; however, his invincible power will eventually drain his life force, and it will ultimately kill him.

Yang’s only hope is to learn the Chen-style tai chi, a martial arts style that consists of a unique technique that can calm his inner chi from taking his life. Yang travels far to the Chen Village and begs the Grandmaster (Tony Leung 梁家輝) to teach him the art. However, the Chen’s do not share their kung fu technique to outsiders. To prove himself worthy, Yang must stop an army of government steampunkers – led by the powerful Fang Zijing (Eddie Peng 彭于晏) – from wiping out the Chen Village.

“Tai Chi Zero” Is a Rocky, but Fun Ride

Although the film received mixed reviews, in large due to the film’s choppy storytelling, the general consensus was that the film was highly enjoyable, and a “popcorn flick that is worth the money and time.”

Most of the praise was directed to Chinese newcomer, 24-year-old Yuan Xiaochao, who stars as the main lead, Yang Luchan. Yuan was a former Olympian, who won the gold medal in the Men’s Chanquan event at the 2008 Beijing Wushu Tournament and the World Wushu Tournament in 2010. Yuan had not had any acting experience prior to the filming of Tai Chi Zero, and critics were impressed with Yuan’s natural acting in the film.

Stephen Fung Signs with Paradigm

Yesterday, it was reported by Deadline that Stephen Fung has signed with Paradigm Talent Agency, an entertainment company based in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Several of Paradigm’s artists include Academy Award winners, Adrien Brody and Chris Cooper.

Allegedly, Stephen has attracted the attention of many American agencies after Tai Chi Zero was screened at the 2012 Toronto and Venice international film festivals. Tai Chi Zero is currently scheduled for a limited release on October 19 in North America.

Tai Chi Zero also stars AngelababyWilliam Feng (冯绍峰), Daniel Wu (吳彥祖), and Shu Qi (舒淇).

Trailer for “Tai Chi Zero”

[vsw id=”_LSX_UH0F9g” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]


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  1. Must be fun to watch but wow second part released so soon after first one

  2. lol the narrator for the trailer is silly, still made me laugh kaka.

    1. Very hard to explain. So, I copied the definition from wikipedia.

      Steampunk is a genre that originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternative history such as Victorian era Britain or “Wild West”-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art.

      A steampunk laptop.

  3. ‘Tai Chi Zero’ sounds very innovative and interesting. I’ll wait for it to air in the local cinema and I’ll go and watch it.

    1. About the trailer.

      Can anyone tell me what that whispering voice is saying before the 26 turn to 19?

      1. I heard “What the hell is a Cloud Atlas?” referring to one of the biggest movies to be released this year on Oct 26.

  4. Very happy that Stephen Fung is gaining success as a director. I still remember his directorial debut ‘Enter the Phoenix’ that also has an interesting story line and get quite favourable review for a first time directing job.

  5. Saw this film during TIFF- it was terrible. Was a fun trailer so I was really looking forward to it. Very disappointing if you care about plot and acting (very laughable), but I guess if you like fluff pieces that don’t make a whole lot of sense and just want to see some action, then this film would suit you. His Q&A post screening was a joke.

    1. To krazyf: But this piece said that the acting was natural.

      1. The natural doesn’t mean Yuan is a good actor, it just means that he performed better than expected, considering that he never had any acting experience before.

        I’m assuming that the experience of watching “Tai Chi Zero” is kind of like watching Disney’s “Prince of Persia” – if you don’t get too into the plot, it should be some mindless fun.

  6. What a crappy trailer. I won’t be watching this movie.

  7. I don’t know what is the big deal here; this film flopped in HK, even trailing behind a cat3 film.

    In China, it is one of many films that has reached over the US$10 M mark but yet there are no reviews on those.

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