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Tai Chi Hero, Sequel to Zero, Suffers from the Juxtaposition

A kung fu pastiche that sometimes resembles a video game and comes tricked out with an assortment of steampunk gizmos, Tai Chi Hero picks up just where predecessor Tai Chi Zero left off—and suffers from the juxtaposition. This sequel is sluggish and rote where its predecessor was aggressively perky and desperate to please. Nothing is too spectacular now that franchise hero Lu Chan (Xiaochao Yuan), a happy-go-lucky ex-soldier who berserker rages into fighting machine whenever antagonists punch just the right lump on his forehead, has completed last film's quest and convinced suspicious Chen Village residents to teach him their highly coveted style of kung fu. But Lu Chan is rejected by the villagers, even after marrying local girl Yu Niang (Angela Yeung Wing), because of a local legend that predicts the town will be destroyed once a stranger settles among them. That prophecy is realized when Tai Chi Zero villain Fang Zi Jing (Eddie Peng) turns up with a battery of cannons and a company of British East India Company soldiers. Since much of Tai Chi Hero's plot revolves around the villagers' impending face-off with Fang Zi Jing, and the sudden reappearance of Yu Niang's jealous older brother Zai Yang (Feng Shao Feng), the film's creators rarely take time to explore the film's deranged world. With the notable exceptions of a motorized fighting vest, and a horse and rider that inexplicably burst through a stone wall like an equestrian Kool-Aid Man, Tai Chi Hero is more Tai Chi Business as Usual.

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