Tai Chi Hero: Film Review

Tai Chi Hero Film Still - H 2013

Tai Chi Hero Film Still - H 2013

This video game-influenced martial arts epic pummels you into submission with its sheer sensory overload.

The sequel to "Tai Chi Zero" delivers more of the frenetic kung fu action sequences that fans crave.

Audiences who didn’t get enough of the hyper-stylized, video-game inspired martial arts mayhem on display in last year’s Tai Chi Zero will no doubt return for more with Stephen Fung’s sequel, the second entry in a proposed trilogy. But while Tai Chi Hero offers plenty of the kung-fu action that fans crave, it’s less successful on the narrative front. It’s best to leave your mind at the door and simply take in the eye-popping visuals.

The film continues the adventures of Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan), the eager student who inexplicably turns into a fighting machine whenever a particular spot is touched on his head. Living in the village where every resident is a martial arts master, he’s now married to Yuniang (Angelababy), the beautiful daughter of its leader (Tony Leung Ka Fai).

When Yuniang’s prodigal brother (Feng Shaofeng) returns home warning about an ancient prophecy that the town will be destroyed by the presence of an interloper, it turns the town against Lu Chan. It also foreshadows a ruthless attack by the previous film’s villain (Eddie Peng) who’s in cahoots with a crooked British railroad tycoon (amusingly played by Swedish actor Peter Stormare).

It’s all just an excuse for an endless series of frenetic action set pieces rendered in heavily stylized fashion that includes extensive use of pop-up graphics, slow-motion, gravity defying leaps and other visual flourishes resembling video games. Once again expertly choreographed by Hong Kong action veteran Sammo Hung, they’re undeniably entertaining if at times wearying in their sheer sensory overload.

As with the first installment, this one also features a distinct steampunk flavor, particularly with the old-fashioned flying machine that’s called into action against the evildoers’ legions of cannons.

Opens April 26 (Well Go USA)

Production: Huayi Brothers & Taihe Film Investment

Cast: Jaden Yuan, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Angelababy, Eddie Peng, Feng Shaofeng, Peter Stormare, Daniel Wu

Director: Stephen Fung

Screenwriter: Kuo-fu Chen

Producer: Wang Zhongjun

Directors of photography: Yiu-Fai Lai, Peter Ngor

Not rated, 100 min.