Cannes 2013 already boasts of an impressive roster consisting of several Hollywood A-listers, and the most recent addition is Keanu Reeves, who is more than willing to talk about his directorial debut in the martial arts film Man of Tai Chi.
Man of Tai Chi was influenced by Reeves’ penchance for kung fu movies (an influence that already showed itself in the Matrix films), and follows the story of a young man (played by Tiger Chen) who finds himself embroiled in Beijing’s shady underground fighting circuit after being recruited by a businessman (played by Reeves.)
About four or five years ago I started to think about directing,” Reeves told Total Film after showing us a sneak peek of one of the (admittedly impressive) action sequences. “My dictum was I would only direct if I had a story to tell and, having developed the script over this length of time, it became a story I wanted to tell and one I didn’t want anybody else to tell.”
Chen was originally part of Yuen Woo-Ping’s stunt team, and met Keanu Reeves while making the Matrix Trilogy. The two have kept in touch and remained friends since then:
“We would sit for hours and stretch and hang out and we just used to tell each other stories,” recalled the director. “He would tell me these extraordinary stories about his master, like he would stand outside with birdseed in the palm of his hand and the bird would land there, but when the bird would try to fly away he would take its chi and the bird couldn’t fly… And I’d be like ‘No way! Tell me another master story!” So and through that we found we shared a sense of humour, a sense of perspective on life, and we bonded.”