Stars: Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and Siu-hou Chin
Director: Woo-Ping Yuen (as Yuen Woo Ping)
Writers: David B. Baron, Jack Maeby (English adaptation)
Two friends, ex Shaolin monks, part ways as they brush with the ongoing rebellion against the government. The ambitious one rises up to be a powerful military commander, while his betrayed friend resorts to learn the calm ways of Tai Chi.
Junbao (Jet Li) grows up as a monk in a Shaolin temple with his friend, Tienbao. The are very competitive with one another and their friendly competitions to see who is stronger frequently get them in trouble. At a competition for promotion to a higher level in Shaolin, Tienbao almost kills another student for cheating and using a concealed weapon. After a disagreement with a master, who refuses to believe Tienbao, a fight erupts which results in the expulsion of Junbao and Tienbao from the temple. The two have spent their entire lives in the temple so they have trouble adapting to the outside world. Eventually the two get mixed up with local rebels. These Robin hood style rebels frequently steal from a corrupt governor and give the proceeds back to the poor. The ambitious and competitive Tienbao gets tired and disillusioned with their new lifestyle so he accepts an offer by the governor to join the governor’s army. The two childhood friends reluctantly part ways with tragic consequences. In order to secure a promotion in the army, Tienbao sets a trap for Junbao and the rebels, giving them false information. In the ensuing battle, many rebels are killed and Junbao snaps mentally, unable to believe that his close friend would betray him. Junbao recovers by studying the art of Tai Chi with the help of his friends and a book that his former master had given him prior to leaving Shaolin. In a final showdown, Junbao must kill Tienbao as his boyhood friend is beyond redemption and then Junbao establishes his on school to teach Tai Chi Chuan.
Note: The movie Tai Chi Master is a very good showcase of both Jackie Chan’s and Michelle Yeoh’s fighting abilities, but it came out after the popularity of this style of movie had waned so it did not receive the accolades it should have received.