Loads and loads of guest stars here one is introduced every couple of minutes, complete with their claims to fame. For instance, Andrew Lau, movie director. Plenty happens. The plot and action fairly whizzes past as fast as the guest stars are introduced. The magnificent mountain scenery is a glory to behold.
Reviewer Score: 8
Comparisons with last years outstanding Detective Dee are inevitable, as it was made by some of the same people and they use some of the tricks. For instance, there is a monstrous machine (similar in look to the tall tower in DD) and many of the special effects from DD are used again, though with some novel twists.
A few features let Tai Chi Zero down, most notably because it falls back on the overly silly and exaggerated villainy of a bunch of evil gwailo from which so many HK films suffer. These guys do everything short of twirling their moustaches. God, it never gets any easier to watch this silliness. Frankly, too, it lacks Tsui Harks flair and brilliance.
There is a romantic sub-plot with the spurned boy genius and the gwailo villainess which is a total waste. It adds nothing to the story and does not make sense. I can only say that it *was* clever to make the lead villain a woman, and that newcomer Mary Lieu is lovely to behold, but beyond that, all this sub-plot adds is length to the screen time.
Those bothers aside, what remains is still great entertainment. The spectacle of the monster machine (which makes and lays train tracks), representing the inexorable march of progress, against the old traditional village that stands in its way, provides much of the story, with plenty of action, quite some silliness, divided loyalties and drama.
And the cliffhanger ending sets things up for the sequel, which is previewed during the credits, and looks well worth waiting for.
If only the average Hollywood movie was this much fun. Warmly recommended.