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September 16, 2013
Tai Chi 0 3D Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
27/9/201217/4/2013IconStephen Fung
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MVC/AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MJayden Yuan

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Yes, Tai Chi 0 has fighting...

Perhaps it was my Asian friends, perhaps it was internet buzz, but for whatever reason Tai Chi 0 (or Tai Chi Zero as it is occasionally written), was a film which I have been keen to check out for some time now - my admiration for many aspects of Asian cinema also added to that enthusiasm. When this Blu-Ray hit my inbox recently I was quite keen to check it out, which is exactly what I did.

Born with a small horn with powers which are activated when struck, Lu Chan was born into a rich family but when his mother dies. Years later and we follow Lu Chan who is now a member of the Divine Truth Cult, a rebel force fighting against the Emperor however when the doctor tells him he is about to die if he keeps using the powers from his horn he travels to Chen Village to learn the forbidden secrets of martial arts, but quickly learns that the village is menaced by a formidable battalion of soldiers the villagers realize that in order to save their homes, they must trust Lu Chan with their secret knowledge of Tai Chi.

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Tai Chi 0 almost goes steampunk in part.
Tai Chi Zero is an action film, beautifully shot, with some dramatic, and also some comedic elements littered over the 95 minute runtime. The film opens with a battle sequence before going back to see Lu Chan's childhood story which is told silently with text descriptions, and it has an interesting, almost retro, style to it. Also interesting is the way in which characters are introduced, and at the same time the actors name and their "claim to fame". For instance "Leung Sui-lung as Master Dong - 1970s kung fu superstar" at the 10-minute mark of the film. It's small touches like that which makes this film, to Western audiences at least, unique.

As you can imagine from the title, this film features quite a few fight sequences and these have been planned by Action Director Sammo Hung, close friend of Jackie Chan. These fights, from the large scale opening battle to the one-on-one confrontations are always entertaining with some wonderful moves shown - although I'm not so sure I need the name of some of the key Tai Chi moves displayed during the film, it slows things down at times.

On a more interesting note for readers of this site, at times Tai Chi 0 takes on a video game guise, not least of which is a segment where Lu Chan take on a series of opponents during his travels - and each fight is broken up into "Rounds" with hit counters being shown and final "KO" symbols.

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Siu-Lung Leung as Dong in Tai Chi 0.
Tai Chi 0 is such a weird, unique, and yet enjoyable film if you can get "into it". Much like Kung Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer this isn't a film for everyone as it's often over the top, unique, and very different, but for those that enjoy something different Tai Chi 0 is worth a look.

For those of you with 3DTV's you'll be pleased to hear that this release includes both the 2D and 3D versions on the one disc. Both versions are presented in the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the 3D version being encoded in MVC with the 2D version in AVC MPEG-4.

We suspect that the majority of people will watch this film in its 2D incarnation and it's generally a fantastic looking film, not least of which due to the wonderful cinematography. Whether it's on the large-scale battlefield during the opening, within the confines of the mechanical beast, or around Chen village there is always something to enjoy. There were, however, occasional scenes that appeared to have some flaws. One scene from 19:27-20:11 follows a dragonfly above a township but the scene seems to stutter along and skip frames. We're not sure if that is the original source material, or a result of the transfer.

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Of course there are plenty of fights in Tai Chi 0.
In terms of 3D it's only moments into the film when it becomes clear that the filmmakers are having some fun with the extra dimension with spears and other objects pointing out of the screen. There are quite a few instances of 3D trickery, but it's the fights that really stand out as something special with the extra dimension and we suggest you check this out if you have the means.

There is only one single audio and one single subtitle track on this disc - that audio is a lossless Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) and it's a pretty impressive audio effort - very impressive actually and will certainly impress those not up to speed with the quality of Asian cinema. Surround sound channels are used to great effect, and sound prioritization is near perfect.

Music in the film isn't just "typical" Chinese sounds, in fact it's was surprising to hear thrash metal during a fight sequence at the 12-minute mark of the film. It's just so out of place that it actually works, but many other musical styles are used throughout the film.

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Visually Tai Chi 0 is very impressive.
One of the more stupid things about the subtitles on this release is that even when the few English words are spoken the subtitles often remain turned on, but not always. Why? Who knows but is it too hard to create a second subtitle track for just the translated subtitles.

Upon starting this disc you will be presented with a trailer for Tai Chi Hero (HD/1:34), the sequel to this film. Beyond that there are absolutely no other extras on this disc.

Tai Chi Zero is an entertaining, albeit rather different, martial arts film that is worth checking out - especially if you enjoy 3D films.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Icon. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.