Shu Qi

Tai Chi Zero (2012, Stephen Fung)

Presumably the Zero in Tai Chi Zero‘s title indicates a second installment is forthcoming, because this one ends on two cliffhangers. The film joyously embraces its artificiality–there’s no attempt at making the kung fu fighting seem realistic; instead, director Fung concentrates on making it look good and drawing attention to that effort. The opening titles all have annotations, informing the viewer where they might have seen cast members before. The method makes Zero a lot of fun, when it otherwise might not be.

It’s not a particularly fun story. Yuan Xiaochao plays an orphan who ends up in a possibly villainous army, his commander knowingly endangering his life because of a mysterious kung fu-enabling ailment. He journeys to an idyllic village, hoping to save his own life, where he’s met with derision from the townsfolk.

Meanwhile, Eddie Peng plays another outsider who’s never been accepted, but now he’s back to build a railroad through his old village.

Angelababy is the girl; she pines for Peng and constantly kicks Yuan’s ass with the kung fu he desperately wants to learn. All three give good performances, especially Peng. And Tony Leung Ka Fai’s great as Yuan’s reluctant friend.

While the film’s constantly trying to be amusing–and it succeeds almost all of the time–the technical achievements are significant. The photography’s fantastic, as is Katsunori Ishida’s music. Katsunori toggles between grand melodramatic scoring and playful action instantly.

It’s hard to hold the problematic ending against Zero. It’s just too fun.



Directed by Stephen Fung; screenplay by Cheng Hsiao-tse and Zhang Jialu, based on a story by Chen Kuo-fu; directors of photography, Peter Ngor, Lai Yiu-Fai and Du Jie; edited by Cheng, Matthew Hui, Zhang Jialu and Zhang Weili; music by Katsunori Ishida; production designer, Timmy Yip; produced by Wang Zhongjun, Daniel Wu and Zhang Dajun; released by Huayi Brothers Media.

Starring Yuan Xiaochao (Yang Lu Chan), Angelababy (Chen Yunia), Tony Leung Ka Fai (Uncle Laborer), Eddie Peng (Fang Zi Jing), Shu Qi (Yang Lu Chan’s Mother) and Feng Shaofeng (Chen Zai-Yang).

The Transporter (2002, Corey Yuen)

Matt Schulze worked again? Wow, I’m a little surprised. Schulze’s performance in The Transporter–wait, hold on, physical presence might be a more accurate description–is one of the worst things about the film. There really aren’t very many good things about it, though, to be fair to Schulze (is he worse than leading lady Shu Qi, yes, but a lot worse, no). It’s not really a disaster or a train wreck or a peculiarity, it’s just a waste of time.

The biggest culprit is Corey Yuen, who’s got to be one of the worst directors ever to make a film released theatrically by a major studio. Even if Fox just picked up Transporter, come on, he’s awful. He doesn’t understand the script, which might be the biggest problem, if one forgives his utterly lame composition and the rapid-fire editing of the action scenes (even if Jason Statham didn’t know martial arts and they created them in the editing, à la Matt Damon in the Bourne movies, it’d be better), the lack of expression is damning. The script has all these fantastic jokes and Yuen is dead to all of them. It’s tragic. Tragic.

Statham’s great, he and François Berléand are great together. They almost make this nonsense tolerable, then Shu Qi shows up, with writer slash producer Luc Besson objectifying her (and her awful performance) for a prospective American audience.

The Transporter also should not have been shot in Panavision aspect ratio, but good luck with that one.



Directed by Corey Yuen; written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen; director of photography, Pierre Morel; edited by Nicolas Trembasiewicz; music by Stanley Clarke; production designer, Hugues Tissandier; produced by Besson and Steve Chasman; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Jason Statham (Frank Martin), Shu Qi (Lai), Matt Schulze (Wall Street), François Berléand (Inspector Tarconi) and Ric Young (Mr. Kwai).

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