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The Tai-Chi Master (Tai ji zhang san feng) (1993)

  Directed by: Woo-ping Yuen
Written by: Kwong Kim Yip
Starring: Siu-hou Chin, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh
Links: The Tai-Chi Master on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Human punching bag?" - a review by timchuma

A young boy named Tienbao (Jet Li) joins a Shaolin Monastery to begin his training. The first person he meets is Junbao (Jet Li), who is younger than him, but is his senior. Tienbao soon agrees with Junbao that he will be the senior, but calls Junbao his senior when others are around.

They soon become friends with the habit of getting into trouble together, which is not helped by Tienbao's quick temper. One such incident means they have to sweep the temple, so to relieve the boredom they having a sparring session.

Some years later, they are still sweeping the temple and jousting, but they also train against each other at the dinner table and while doing the washing (they blame the damage caused by it on termites and rats).

As Tienbao is very ambitious, he enters a tournament in the Monastery, but this turns out badly when he accuses his opponent of cheating and he and Junbao are attacked by all the students with long poles.

Their master rescues them just in time, but they have to leave their home and go out into the real world.

On their first day of living in the outside world, they don't fare well, as they have no money and Tienbao likes fighting too much.

After rescuing a woman in a restaurant who was trying to get her husband back, they decide to stay there for the night, during which time they discover that the owners are rebels who are trying to defeat the Evil Eunuch who rules these parts.

The next day while trying to earn money as a 'human punching bag', Tienbao sees his chance for a meal ticket and power when the Eunuch asks him to join his soliders, so he leaves, and Junbao goes back to the restaurant.

After a while, the tax collections by the Eunuch's soldiers start to become more frequent, and Junbao gets involved when the rebels in the restaurant kill all the soldiers in a tax collection party except their leader. Junbao gives chase, but thankfully for him Tienbao is on sentry duty and kills the soldier before he has had a chance to reach the barracks.

Tienbao also warns them when they are about to be raided in the restaurant. They all escape, except the owner who is killed for refusing to tell where the others are.

Wanting revenge, the rebels get Tienbao's help to sneak into the barracks and assasinate the Eunuch. However, it does not go according to plan and only a few of the rebels (including Junbao) escape. Junbao rescues another one of the rebels and then goes mad when he returns to safety...

A classic Hong Kong action film from an era many people think is the best in the genre, the early 1990s.

My favourite scenes in the movie are when Tienbao and Junbao are in training, including one scene where they are carrying on a coherent conversation while breaking bricks over their heads.

timchuma gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 14 Feb 2005

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