3 Oct – Four-time Hong Kong Film Award winner, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, claimed that "Tai Chi O", the first movie in the "Tai Chi" trilogy directed by actor-turned-director Stephen Fung, may well turn the Chinese film industry on its head through the eyes of international audiences, not to mention provide viewers around the world with a deeper understanding of the concept of Chinese martial arts, especially Tai Chi.
"When I was first involved in this movie, I realized that it may be the next big thing in the movie industry. I saw its great potential in highlighting our rich Chinese culture and film productions on the international stage," said Leung. The film managed to open in top spots in the box office in its first week of release in both Hong Kong and China.
He added, "Many years ago, our martial arts representative was Bruce Lee. He used his kungfu knowledge and acting skills to help promote Chinese martial arts to the world. Thus, I am very proud to be a part of "Tai Chi O", a film that somewhat continues his legacy and I have high expectations for it."
It is only normal for the actor to mention Bruce Lee after having starred in the 2010 film, "Bruce Lee, My Brother". As one who seldom has a hand in action scenes, he was thrilled when he knew that he had to perform some martial arts stunts in Fung's directorial feature.
"When I first got the script, I wondered how I was going to illustrate the art of tai chi for three movies. I have to do fighting scenes! But I'm glad that Stephen invited me
to star in a kungfu film before I can't move freely. I don't think I can do those stunts in a few more years later as I am getting old," said Leung Ka-fai, who had to learn tai chi from a Chinese master in China for 2 months before filming.
"Tai Chi O" has been praised by movie critics for its creativity and novelty as director Fung reinvented the Chinese martial arts genre by infusing it with elements of steampunk, machine, animation and video games.
"You know, if you do the same thing over and over again, the audience will only be limited to a certain kind of story and genre. We want to bring in something new to the traditional kungfu story and show people that there are alternative ways to film a Chinese martial arts movie," said Fung.
"Tai Chi O" tells the story of a gifted child named Yang Luchan, who possesses tremendous power through the bump on his forehead. Shunned by the people around him for the same freakish bump, he goes out into the world to seek his fortune, namely to learn well-known Tai Chi moves from Chen village. However, according to the Chen family rules, they are not allowed to impart their knowledge to outsiders, but Yang gets his chance when he helps the villagers to stop the British authorities from destroying their homes.
2008 Olympic gold medallist Yuan Xiaochao stars as Yang Luchan, alongside stars Tony Leung Ka-fai, Angelababy, Eddie Peng, Shu Qi and Daniel Wu.
"Tai Chi O" is now showing in cinemas in Malaysia and to see release in Singapore tomorrow, 4 October.