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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Biography > Tai Chi Master (1993/Dragon Dynasty DVD)

Tai Chi Master (1993/Dragon Dynasty DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Films: B-



Though I do not think I would go as far as to call it a masterpiece, I can see why Yuen Wo-Ping’s Tai Chi Master (1993) has the following and reputation it has.  The story of the founder of Tai Chi is wonderfully played by Li in a role where his martial arts skills, appeal, sense of acting and overall likability meld terrifically in one of his best works.  The film is done in flashback, showing us Li leading a group session, we flashback to his character in childhood, his growth, learning, living and the challenges is life path brought.


Yes, some of the fights are exaggerated and some of the tale is done like a myth or dream, but there is heart and soul throughout.  Michelle Yeoh shows up in the later years of the story (she has some chemistry with Li that still has not been totally taken to its greatest height) and director Wo-Ping gained even more attention when he choreographed The Matrix Trilogy (reviewed elsewhere on this site) but is more than a formidable director in his own right.


The result is one of the best Martial Arts films in about the last 30 years and though there may be some patches that made it a little uneven, this is one of the jewels in the growing Dragon Dynasty library.  Even outside of such films, any serious filmmaker or film lover needs to see this one at least once.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is not bad, except that it has soft color throughout and unless this is an issue with the original stock, this film needs and deserves to have more work done on it.  The work of Director of Photography Tom Lau, H.K.S.C., deserves it.  The Dolby Digital Cantonese 5.1 mix is the best of the three (including an English 5.1 dub and 2.0 Cantonese Mono track) though none can mask the age of the film’s audio.  Extras include yet another solid, thorough Bey Logan audio commentary, a visit to the Chen Village at The Birthplace of Tai Chi, a strange interview piece where commercial director Brett Ratner and critic Elvis Mitchell discuss the director of the film in Mediations on the Master, then the duo discuss Li and Yeoh, a home video trailer and an interview with co-star Chin Siu Ho in a piece dubbed Nemesis.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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