STV (UK), August 31, 2012
Keanu Reeves knows kung fu – shows us with 47 Ronin and Man of Tai Chi
The 47-year-old actor has 47 Ronin and Man of Tai Chi under his belt – and is making his feature film directorial debut with the latter.
47 Ronin is a big-budget retelling of a classic Japanese tale – with Reeves playing an outsider alongside a mostly Japanese cast. Directed by first-timer Carl Rinsch, it tells of 47 samurai in 18th century Japan who avenge the murder of their master.
Shot in 3D, the film's release has been repeatedly delayed. It was initially set for release late this year but Universal has now scheduled it for winter 2013. Reeves said he was doing additional shooting on the movie in the fall.
Reeves said in an interview: "It's an ambitious film. It's an ambitious film in theme and it was ambitious in its scale.
"I think it's something special. It's really historical, fantastical. It's a big story, you know – it's like Revenge, Love, Honor, Outsider. Those take time and care."
Meanwhile, while Reeves was producing and hosting a documentary about digital cinema – Side By Side – he also directed his first movie.
It's called Man of Tai Chi and features Tiger Chen Hu and Iko Uwais, known for his role in The Raid: Redemption. In post-production, the film doesn’t have a release date as yet.
Reeves explained: "I love kung fu movies. I love the genre. And I was working with a gentleman named Chen Hu, Tiger Chen, who helped train me in The Matrix, for the first Matrix film.
"We stayed friends and he started to do some acting. So I started to work with him, developing a story for him. It turned into Man of Tai Chi and we worked on it for about like I said five, six years."
The film shot mostly in China and is based loosely on the life of Hu and his teacher.
"Tiger is a great martial artist," Reeves said. "He's got this really traditional background. And he's also a modern man. And so the story is based around his character in a way."
Reeves says there are 14 fights in his movie, and he joined in one. While he hasn't formally studied martial arts since he was a kid, he remains fascinated by how it plays on-screen.
"I did some studying when I was a little kid, you know. Took some akido and did some jumping around stuff. But I don't have any belts," he said. "I know movie kung fu. And I had one fight in the film, a super fight."