Twenty years ago, Keanu Reeves’ name would certainly not be one that comes up in a conversation about kung fu, certainly not unless drugs was involved. But after proving how badass pasty-faced American programmers could be in the Matrix trilogy, he helped kick off a trend of Western actors suddenly learning some Eastern skills. He’ll soon be seen locking swords with samurai in the production plagued 47 Ronin, but before then we finally get a chance to see what he can do with his hands both in front and behind the camera with his directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi.
The last we heard of Man of Tai Chi, Reeves was making some bold claims about how the film’s 18 – yes, 18! – fight scenes were going to help revolutionize kung fu films, much like the Wachowski siblings did with “bullet time” on the Matrix trilogy, through the use of some new cinematographic technology called “Bot and Dolly”.
And while we’re not yet treated to a in-film application of this tech, thanks to Twitchfilm we do get our first official look at the film with these new images and first poster.
Man of Tai Chi will see Reeve’s Matrix kung fu coach, Tiger Hu Chen, in the lead as a young man in contemporary Beijing whose “abilities lead him into great opportunity as well as conflict”. Reeves will be occasionally getting out of the cushy director’s chair to play the film’s villain (let’s see if the student can beat the master), while Hong Kong actress/singer Karen Mok has been cast as the female lead. Also in the film will be The Raid star Iko Uwais and Ip Man 1 & 2‘s Simon Yam, while kung fu film legend Yuen Woo Ping will serve as the film’s action director.
Man of Tai Chi is certainly an intriguing film, especially for kung fu fans like me, and I cannot wait to see how the new Bot and Dolly system gets used in fights. It’s a remote controlled camera system, that gets programmed with a predetermined path, and because of the special actuator arm that the rig uses, that path can be setup in such a way that allows the camera to get shots that would normally only be reserved for CGI films. Here’s the previous “proof of concept” video we posted about how the whole system works.
Last Updated: April 16, 2013