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Review: Kung fu prodigy goes to town in 'Tai Chi Zero'

Director Stephen Fung pairs up with legendary choreographer Sammo Hung for this martial arts battle flick. It's stylistic overkill, but it has winning moments.

October 18, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • A scene from "Tai Chi Zero."
A scene from "Tai Chi Zero." (Handout )

Director Stephen Fung's stylistic hodgepodge "Tai Chi Zero" follows a battle-hardened, impulsive kung fu prodigy who seeks training in a secretive, energy-conserving martial arts style practiced in peaceful Chen Village.

He becomes an unwitting warrior in a battle between the town and a Western-influenced prodigal son whose giant mechanical claw-monster threatens to wipe out the residents so a railroad can be built.

"Tai Chi Zero" is often more distracting than diverting with its everything-goes aesthetic — there are strains of steampunk, manga and silent film comedy, with video-game touches.

But occasionally a childlike enthusiasm for kung fu heroism pokes through, usually tied to something recognizably, charmingly human in legendary choreographer Sammo Hung's work.


"Tai Chi Zero." MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence and martial arts action throughout; in Mandarin with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At selected theaters.

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