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Tai Chi Hero: Ancient Chinese for "Awesome" 

Wednesday, Apr 24 2013

A moment early on in Stephen Fung's Tai Chi Hero sets the tone: Not yet having earned the Hero status the movie title gives him, Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan) responds with a wide-eyed, "Wow, that's really awesome!" to a demonstration of gravity-defying kung fu which is, truth be told, really awesome. It not a sloppy mistranslation, but rather an intentional anachronism for 19th-century China, and those who have a problem with even the modern colloquial use of the word awesome need not apply. It their loss, because Tai Chi Hero is a relentlessly fun martial arts movie, with plenty of wire-work and split-screen action and every other trick in the book. It also manages to be a sequel to Fung concurrently-shot Tai Chi Zero that is packed with volumes of backstory and mythos without ever getting too bogged down or making the stakes unclear. The film revels in its silliness, mocking the rules of its already-fanciful genre while playing along with them, such as setting fight scenes to Swedish death metal, or presenting the final series of battles like the levels of a video game, complete with an on-screen "Vs." Because why not? Fung even manages the improbable feat making the stale and played-out concept of steampunk seem fresh and interesting. Really awesome, Tai Chi Hero!

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Sherilyn Connelly

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