One of the few American A-listers to actually make a real impact on Kung Fu cinema fans thanks largely to the Wachowski Brothers’ “The Matrix” films, Keanu Reeves is set to try his hand behind the camera with the upcoming “Man of Tai Chi.”
It’s not uncommon for A list celebrities to get involved in directing in order to create vanity projects, but seeing an actor dedicating himself to the craft of creating the entertaining spectacle of a good Kung Fu movie is almost unheard of outside of Hong Kong.
More than just a hired gun director, Keanu Reeves actually developed this project from the ground up around Tiger Chen Hu, the protege of Kung Fu legend Yuen Woo-Ping, a close friend of Keanu Reeves since their work together on the Matrix films.
The film is set to feature Master Yuen Woo-Ping as fight choreographer and Reeves promises that the film will contain at least eighteen fight sequences comprising a good forty minutes of the film’s running time. This should be a refreshing change of pace from the too-little-too-late Kung Fu cinema that often comes from the western film industry thanks to a combination of inexperienced actors and directors and the western market’s historical lean towards dramatic, dialog driven films.
The box office returns on films like “Kill Bill,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and every new Jackie Chan release suggest that the western market may be ready to join in the Kung Fu scene with films like “The Man of Tai Chi” leading the charge.
Reeves, who has spent the last year in Hong Kong casting for the film and has put much of his own money into the film’s production with help from Village Roadshow, promises the film, which will have begun shooting in late December 2011, to be released in 2012/2013. The film will feature Mandarin and English language dialog and may star Reeves, who has been re-trained by Master Woo-Ping for the film, as the movie’s villain.
This news may seem out of left field, but if the film is a success we may see a whole new market for American Kung Fu movies in the near future.
Village Roadshow Asia, China Film Group, Wanda Media and Universal Pictures are co-financing the martial arts pic, which will shoot in China.