TAI CHI HERO (Stephen Fung). 103 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (April 26). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
Punching! Kicking! Spinning! That thing where you lean back on one foot to dodge a spinning punching kick! Tai Chi Hero has it all.
The second in Stephen Fung's steampunk-flavoured kung fu series, Tai Chi Hero picks up immediately after the events of last fall's Tai Chi Zero, with doofus warrior Lu Chan (Yuan Xiaochao) finally being embraced by the people of Chen Village after defeating villainous Fang Zijing (Eddie Peng) and his awesome killer railway train.
Newly married to the lovely Yu Niang (Angelababy) - who still kind of hates him - Lu Chan and his happiness are threatened by a prophecy that Chen Village will be destroyed should the residents ever share the secrets of Chen-style kung fu with an outsider. Also, Fang has been recruited by a sinister executive from the East India Tea Company (Peter Stormare, sort of speaking Mandarin), so that's another headache.
It's all just an excuse for Fung to stage a bunch of elaborate, inventive martial arts sequences, and on that level Tai Chi Hero pretty much satisfies. A third film, teased in the last seconds, might be pushing it, though.