Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 13th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1993
Director: Woo-ping Yuen
Writer: Kwong Kim Yip
Cast: Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Siu-hou Chin, Fennie Yuen, Cheung-Yan Yuen, Shun Lau, Hai Yu
DVD released: April 26th, 2010
Approximate running time: 92 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese, Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
DVD Release: Cine Asia / Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £17.99
Synopsis: Two childhood friends who were raised and trained at a Shaolin temple are forced to leave the only home they have ever know. When one of them offends one of their elders. Now on their own they struggle to make a living. When one of them accepts an offer to join the governments military. This puts a strain on their once inseparable bound.
Tai-Chi Master was directed by Woo-ping Yuen, who’s other notable film’s as a director include Drunken Master, The Magnificent Butcher and Iron Monkey. When Tai-Chi master was originally released in North America. It was released under the alternate title Twin Warriors.
The plot does a good job setting everything up and establishing who all the main players are. With the story hitting its stride once the two friends Junbao and Chin Bo are banished from the shaolin temple. From this scene on the film moves along at a brisk pace that doesn’t for the duration of the film. Even though there is a familiarity to the story at hand. These similarities are easy to look past because of extraordinary fight scenes and exceptional performances from the entire cast with the most surprising performance coming from Jet Li. The scenes in which his character Junbao tries to deal with the betrayal of his friend Chin Bo are some of his strongest of his career.
In a film where every fight scene leaves a lasting impression. Some of the more memorable ones include a scene where Michelle Yeoh’s character who confronts the woman who stoles her husband. She uses her surroundings including a table which gets broken down until there is nothing left but the legs she is standing on. Another stand out fight scene includes a scene early on in the film where Junbao and Chin Bo are surrounded by other students at the shaolin temple. The students are stand on top of each other holding poles. Of course the film’s most impressive fight scene is the final between Junbao and Chin Bo which at one point includes them fighting on a net above spikes.
The one area where this film is the weakest, is its attempt at offbeat humor which misses the mark most of the time. Ultimately Tai-Chi Master is best approached as a fantasy and this is most evident in its over the top fight scenes which are far removed from reality.
Tai-Chi Master is presented in a anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. This transfer is comparable to the transfer used for the region 1 DVD release from Dragon Dynasty. The images looks generally crisp, colors and flesh tones fare well and edge enhancement is minimal.
This release comes with three audio options, Dolby Digital mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese and Dolby Digital 5.1 English. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and error free. All three audio mixes sound clear and balanced with the Dolby Digital mono Cantonese being the most preferable of the three since the English and Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes sound too spread out and at times overly robust.
Extras for this release include original English language home video trailer (44 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a interview with actor Chin Siu Ho titled “Nemesis” (20 minutes 15 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Cantonese with English subtitles) and a segment titled “The Birthplace of Tai-Chi” (14 minutes 56 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Cantonese with English subtitles). Other extras include two interview segments with critic Elvis Mitchell and director Brett Ratner. The first segment titled “Meditations on the Master” in which they discuss Woo-ping Yuen (13 minutes 41 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the second segment titled “Twin Warriors” in which they discuss Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh (14 minutes 33 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). The main extra included with this release is a audio detailed commentary with Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan who discusses the films of Woo-ping Yuen, the cast, fighting styles, the differences between the version contained on this release and the original U.S. release of the film titled “Twin Dragons” and various other production related information. Rounding out the extras are trailers for Fist of Legend (1 minute 46 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and Kill Zone (2 minutes 33 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). Overall Tai-Chi Master gets a solid DVD release from Cine Asia.