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Tai Chi Zero: Eastern Steampunk done well

So, I know I’ve mentioned in in world chat before the movie Tai Chi Zero and how much I love it’s display of an interesting blend of east and west in it’s steampunk flair, but I had never been able to find many screenshots through googling that did it justice, so I thought I’d go through the movie and take some of my own to share. 

For those who may be hearing of this for the first time, it’s a chinese made steampunk kung fu film where a traditional village tries to fight the invasion of the railroad along with an unlikely hero wanting to learn the village’s particular style of kung fu in order to preserve what’s left of his life. 

Despite the grandeur of the railroad laying and construction tank in the latter part of the movie, I actually prefer the look of the  heavy duty steam powered car of the wayward engineer returned to his hometown. It combines some rather interesting elements of rustic heavy wood construction with it’s iron reinforcements, western ornamental design in the metal set alongside delicate blue painted bone china cups for the reflectors of the head lamps. Unfortunately, in the movie all you get is brief glimpses as the heavy beast plows through gravel struggling to turn, knocking over tables in the market and slamming into a poor guy. 

Townsfolk marvel at the machine

A glimpse of the ornamental details.

Something nice about seeing the gauges cast in hanji

And of course the engineer in his western finery.

And off they go again, to drop his childhood sweetheart off at the pharmacy she works at.

But, this isn’t the main machine of the movie either, just my favorite. Marvel or monstrosity in filagree(could it be called filagree if it’s not a delicate metal?), the rail laying and demolition tank is nothing short of impressive in size and detail. At least from my mechanically limited understanding, all the inner workings sure seem impressive.

The full(ish) glimpse of the mighty Troy No.1 with it’s claw and shovel arms extended from within it’s shell.

And I had to throw in a last look of the handsome chinese engineer as he finishes delivering his ultimatum to the town and pulls the lever to lower his small pavillion back into the dome of the machine. 


Well, I don’t want to give away too much of the movie, just a few clearer shots of what can be found in even the trailer. The only unfortunate is that it leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger as the story is in two movies, the second not yet being available in the US. But, I do hope I’ve enticed a few to give it a try. I suppose I have an extra fondness for it due to the east meets west, traditional trying to fend off progress, chinese and english aesthetic blends. ::glances back to his avatar and then bows out::



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  1. Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse May 25, 2013

    You really caught some beautiful images.

  2. Edward Pearse Edward Pearse May 28, 2013

    VERY impressive. I’ll have to try and track this one down.

  3. Caesar Osterham Caesar Osterham May 28, 2013

    For what it’s worth, the movie is available on Amazon Instant Video.  Whether or not this will work for non-US users is beyond my purview.  (Which is a long winded way of saying “You may be out of luck, Your Grace.”)

  4. Wiggy Undertone Wiggy Undertone June 3, 2013

    It looks fantastic!  Thanks for posting this.

  5. Kristos Sonnerstein Kristos Sonnerstein June 3, 2013

    It’s on Netflix as well. I was very excited when I noticed they picked it up. I had been looking forward to it, but it never hit the theatres in our area. Too small of a niche for most US theatres to bother.

  6. Grendel Footman Grendel Footman July 14, 2013

     good flick, combines my love of kung fu movies and giant steampowered destructive machines

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