Kung Fu Cinema (US), October 21, 2009

Keanu Reeves backs Yuen Clan’s ‘Kung Fu Hero’

by Mark Pollard

Yuen Woo-ping protégé Tiger Chen is set to make his leading debut in KUNG FU HERO, a comedic martial arts actioner directed by female mainland filmmaker Ning Ying and Yuen’s brother Yuen Cheung-yan.

The film, which was previously known as TAI CHI TIGER during early development, is being produced by Han San-ping, He Gang and Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves. Chen coached Reeves in his screen fighting during the making of the MATRIX trilogy and the two subsequently became friends. As such, Reeves has become an investor in the production.

News of this project broke last year (see Twitch article) when Reeves talked about it during an interview in Seoul but development apparently stalled afterward. According to Wu-Jing.org, Chen expressed frustration on his blog earlier this year that little headway was being made. But Chen recently appeared at a press conference to announce production would begin this month with release scheduled for 2010.

Another one of the film’s producers, Li Xao-wan, stated that it would showcase Chinese kung fu “with utmost realism and excitement” and possess comedic clashes between Chinese and Western culture.

The plot concerns an ordinary Chinese man trained in kung fu who comes to the rescue of a Westerner in an international setting. Thematically, the story will deal with chivalry, self-determination and promoting Chinese culture.

Given the involvement of Reeves and the Yuen Clan, Tiger Chen’s experience in Hollywood and the cross-culture plot I think it’s a safe bet that KUNG FU HERO will be targeting an international audience.

Tiger Chen will be a new face for genre fans but he’s an old hand when it comes to screen fighting action. He’s worked extensively under Yuen Woo-ping as a choreographer and stuntman, has doubled Uma Thurman in KILL BILL and trained many of the stars in Yuen’s films including Keanu Reeves. Yet he hasn’t been showcased on screen before so fans with an appreciation for real fighting skills may be in for a treat in 2010.

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