So, my Dad casually mentioned that he found a fun looking Chinese movie on Netflix. My Dad has a tendency to try out movies on a whim, sometimes finding Asylum movies or things that he turns off after 10 minutes, and sometimes finding gold. If the movie is no good, we can always just switch over to the Catherine Tate Show or re-watch an old Black Books episode to enjoy the rest of our evening.
On this occasion, as with so many others, we settled in for a cozy evening of movie and snacks, innocently unaware of what we were about to watch. The movie started in the middle of an epic war between a huge army and a single man with a magical horn. That got my attention. Then the guy with the top hat, the phonograph, and the giant steam-powered tank showed up, and I turned to my Dad in shock. “This is steampunk kung-fu? That’s a thing?”
That’s right, it’s a story about a young man who wants to learn the most powerful fighting style in the land, with a backdrop of beautiful, late 1800s, rural China. And it’s steampunk. It’s a delicious combo that I suddenly realized I hadn’t seen before. So much of steampunk is either set in London or desolate and dusty patches of America, that I found it a real treat to see all my favorite steamy fun a different setting, and in a different culture.
The whole thing is delightfully goofy. The characters were charming, the action is great and often comedic, the settings were lovely, and the true villains were excess and the future itself. If you like kung-fu movies, you’ll like this one. If you’re a steampunk, you’ll like this movie. If you like to see the little guy fight for traditions and truth in the face of a greedy and corrupt future, you will like this movie. If you like cute and bantering rom-coms, you’ll like this movie. Even if you just like goofiness for the sake of goofiness, you won’t be disappointed. There really is something for everyone! And for me, it was a lovely surprise as well.
Most critics gave this movie a 6, but I like off-beat things. If I were a movie reviewer type, I’d give this fun little find at least an 8.5 out of 10. Sure, it’s not Serenity level movie watching perfection, but it’s fun, silly, and entertaining throughout. So, if you’re looking for something fun to watch tonight, go stream Tai Chi Zero on Netflix. There’s even a sequel! I haven’t seen it myself yet, but the story continues with Tai Chi Hero.
What’s you’re favorite Steampunk movie? Leave a comment and let me know! But if you say The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, then I will all throw things at you and call you names.