After 5 years of preparation and more than 1 year of filming, on May 7, the directorial debut of Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves (48 years old), Man of Tai Chi , was released. present in Chinese cinemas. This martial arts film is also screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
In the hit sci -fi blockbuster series The Matrix, Keanu Reeves declared: “I know martial arts”. By the time Reeves made such a statement, images of traditional Chinese martial arts had almost invaded his mind.
Special interest in Chinese culture
During the 6yeas of working on the Man of Tai Chi movie project , Reeves has mastered ancient Chinese fighting styles. The film highlights several genres of Chinese martial arts and tai chi.
While working on this film project, Reeves reunited with Vien Hoa Binh, the martial arts director of The Matrix, and Tran Ho, who trained him in martial arts during the filming of The Matrix.
In Man of Tai Chi, Reeves plays the boss of an underground fight club who entices a young tai chi practitioner (played by Chen Hu) to fight and kill people for money.
The action scenes of Reeves in the film are very impressive. He fights with Tran Ho in the fight scene at the end of the movie, which lasts up to 10 minutes. In that scene, Reeves does most of the fighting himself. However, there are some dangerous moves he still has to rely on a stuntman.
In the film, Tran Ho transforms into a character who struggles to balance the two halves of light and darkness in his body. He is passionate about tai chi and craves money and fame. But he must decide his path, as a martial artist in life-and-death fights in the underworld or train to master tai chi. He must face the demons inside of him, while still having to find a way to defeat his opponent.
Through the making of this film, Chen found that Reeves was the most hardworking and most interested in Chinese culture among his star students. Tran Ho said that every night Reeves watched films by Bruce Lee and Jet Li and combined what he saw with the martial arts moves he taught Reeves. The pandas, the scenery and the food of Sichuan are always the topics of their conversations. In 2005, Reeves wrote the foreword to Tran Ho’s autobiography.
“Perhaps we stick together because I ‘tortured’ him more than others,” joked Chen Hu in a recent China Daily interview .
For Reeves, making a film for the first time while directing a team that includes Chinese, Americans, Japanese and Australians was a big challenge. However, due to having worked together for a long time, there is absolute trust between them.
“I am not a director who screams or screams. Having acted for many years, I know how to guide and take care of actors. In case I have my own opinion, but you have a different opinion, I will listen to you and ask the other members of the film crew what they think,” – Reeves expressed.
When promoting this film project, Reeves did not expect the screenwriting process to take so long. The screenplay was written in English and Reeves found someone to translate it into Chinese. Not to mention, he also invited three Chinese writers to participate to ensure the script contained elements of the two cultures.
China Film Corporation is a co-producer of the film with Wanda Media, Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Universal Pictures. In addition, China Film Corporation also assisted in finding filming locations and gave many suggestions on how to describe bloody battle scenes.
The film presents many layers of philosophy, so Reeves hopes that element will make the film more attractive than other summer blockbusters. Reeves believes Chinese and American audiences will enjoy the film.
“The martial arts genre is still popular with international audiences. In addition, the story in the film is global. The main character is a humble boy who becomes a martial arts hero. How he fell into the dark world and tried to get out of it,” Reeves said.