nationalism despite the state

Steampunk + kung fu + colonialism + the Qing Dynasty = Tai Chi 1: Start At Zero (太极1:从零开始).

The plot is simple and the pace full-throttled. There is a village, where kung fu is treasured and passed down from generation to generation, but only to village members — no sharing traditional culture. There are masters who fly through the air and defeat mechanical trojan horses, which bring railway tracks and seductive foreign women. There is a phoney foreignor, who betrays his village and first love to redeem his personal honor. There is a latent hero, who learns kung fu despite the village’s prohibition against teaching outsiders, shuts down the trojan horse despite ignorance about things mechanical, and marries the village kung fu beauty despite being unconscious. All in 90 minutes of whirling feet and spinning hands, punctuated by moments of sudden stillness and insight into what happens to human hearts when forced into a corner. Continue reading