BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Assassins & Tai Chi Zero
Two New Foreign Film Martial Arts Movies Hit Hi-Def...
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Foreign film fans have no doubt fallen in love with Wellgo USA and the distributor's many fine recent releases, which have included everything from Warriors of the Rainbow and Ip Man to The Viral Factor and War of the Arrorws among others. Two recent releases well worth checking out for fans of martial arts madenss include the political actioner The Assassins starring Chow Yun Fat and the psychotic over-the-top craziness that is Tai Chi Zero.
Featuring one of the East's biggest stars as one of China's biggest historical figures, The Assassins stars Chow Yun Fat as Cao Cao, one of China's major players during the Three Kingdoms era and a renown warlord and chancellor in the Eastern Han Dynasty. After his death, Cao would become known as Emperor Wu of Wei. While The Assassins tells an interesting, engaging and entertaining tale of political deception, espionage, backstabbing, it's no where near reality. That said, it's still some very fine film making that'll have martial arts film fans movies clamoring for more.
The film's two main characters include Lingju (Liu Yifei) and Mu Shun (Hiroshi Tamaki), two young assassins who have been trained to kill Cao Cao and prevent the ruler from becoming the man he's fated to be. Of course, the duo fall in love and face peril, twists of fate, and more, all the while Cao Cao's story too develops. Others plot to assassinate the emperor, to ascend the throne, and to overtake Cao Cao should he accomplish his goals.
The video is impressive to watch, the 1080p in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. There are a few scenes in which colors seem unusual or oddly chosen, though as artsy as many of these films can be, this may very well be intentional. As for audio, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks in both Mandarin and English are included, providing both options for viewers. The sound effects are well done, the full use of the sound stage is present and the dialogue here is clear and easily heard.
As for bonus material, the disc includes the film trailer and a 13+ minute making-of "Behind the Scenes" featurette which features some footage of scenes being shot and interviews with cast and crew. Overall, nothing really impressive, but something's better than nothing.
For die-hard Chow Yun Fat fans and fans of the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, The Assassins is a solid bet. It features some interesting political intrigue, solid character development, and dynamic action.
For more information on The Assassins, click HERE.
Tai Chi Zero
For those who like Quentin Tarantino movies, drinking Monster Energy Drink, and Drunken Boxing, Tai Chi Zero is a must see movie. As odd as it sounds, the movie is one of the most entertaining pieces of film I've seen in quite some time; not because it's necessarily a brilliant film - though some might call it that - but because it plays into itself well and knows when to make fun of the cliches for which it fits and meets. Tai Chi Zero is - for all intents and purposes - the martial arts movie equivalent of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. An odd comparison, I know, but Tai Chi Zero exudes a aura of cool, breaks the fourth wall (at times) and leaks hyper kinetic flavor everwhere.
The story follows Lu Chan (Yuan Xiaochao) as he seeks to learn a new martial art from a unique village, Chen, where everyone is a martial arts master. Unable to formally study their unique Tai Chi, Lu Chan instead begins to mimic their techniques and learns from watching them, ensuring he doesn't need to rely on his Devil's horn. You see, Lu Chan has a Devil's horn (skin tag) which, when pressed, turns him into a martial arts demon on the battlefield. However, this causes not only his opponents harm, but him harm as well. So it's no surprise his doctor sends Lu Chan on a mission to Chen village to learn their legitimate Tai Chi. Enter a number of high profile actors - including Andy Lau among others - who play villagers who help train Lu Chan...without really training him and a massive rail road robot hellbent on destroying the town and you've got a crazy, over-the-top movie that is Tai Chi Zero. Confused yet? You should be. And if you're not, something's wrong because Tai Chi Zero is a big ball of confusing, hilariously awesome fun. Seriously.
The 1080p video is gorgeous with bright colors and brilliant effects in the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Steampunkish to say the least, fans of stylized martial arts will find Tai Chi Zero a fun and exciting movie. The audio - DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks in Mandarin and English - comes through loud and clear as do the special effects, which fill the sound stage thoroughly.
As for special features, Tai Chi Zero features the film's trailers, a short music video and a 5+ minute behind the scenes featurette which shows some on-set footage.
Overall, Tai Chi Zero isn't for everyone, but for fans who've been raised on Monster energy drink, Pop Rocks, and first person shooter movies, Tai Chi Zero will seem right at home. It's super fast, super fun, in-you-face and exciting as it is entertaining.
For more information on Tai Chi Zero, click HERE.
- reviews by Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley