Brilliantly choreographed! That’s the first thing that comes to mind when recommending this movie. The story line is a little bland and overdone. Martial artist goes into the world of underground fighting for noble reasons and then is forced to fight even though the fighter wants to stop….tell me if this hasn’t been done before.
The movie started off very well, but as the story got deeper the urge to keep fast forwarding grew more and more. Tiger Chen is a student of Tai Chi and has entered a martial arts tournament to bring honor to his master and his temple. Set in modern day Beijing, Chen must also deal with the troubles of a full time job and bills.
During his last tournament fight he is being watched by Donaka Mark (Keanu Reeves), a man who runs an underground pay per view fights. Mark is instantly impressed with Chen and meets with him as soon as possible. Mark simply states to Chen, “you win you make money”. Simple as that, but as the fights progress and Chen’s fame becomes greater, Mark puts Chen into fights to the death.
In the end Mark and Chen end up having an epic fight to the death, but the fight is nowhere near epic. Since Keanu Reeves isn’t as skilled a fight as actor Tiger Hu Chen, the fight is dumbed down to make Reeves look like a worthy opponent. At times given super human strength to make the fight look more even. In one scene Reeves picks up Chen with one arm and delivers a kick that sends Chen flying.
Overall I give this movie a 3/5. Don’t just watch it for the fights. There is a lot of great story in the earlier scenes of this movie, but as time progresses it collapses on itself. Keanu Reeves also directed this movie. I didn’t know if this was his debut in the field, but he did a fantastic job.