Tai Chi II (1996)
Reviewed by: Arshadnm6 on 2005-04-15
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