Man of Tai Chi Tiger Chen, Keanu Reeves, Karen Mok. Directed by Keanu Reeves. Rated R. Opens Friday; also available on VOD.
Fourteen years after declaring in The Matrix that he knew kung fu, Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with the slick but underwhelming martial-arts movie Man of Tai Chi. Although Reeves is the big name here and co-stars as the movie’s villain, Man of Tai Chi is really a showcase for martial artist Tiger Chen, who worked with Reeves as a stuntman on the Matrix sequels. Chen is an impressive fighter but not a particularly compelling screen presence, and the movie’s story, which follows Chen (as a character named Tiger Chen) as he gets involved with an underground fight network run by a sinister businessman (Reeves), is bland and often cheesy. While tai chi itself is a novel style for a martial-arts movie, it’s not quite revolutionary enough to make up for the mediocre story. Reeves sneers and chews scenery as the bad guy, but his star makes a less memorable impression.