Keanu Reeves made his directorial debut at the Cannes Film Festival this week. Over the last five years, the Canadian-born actor developed the script, which is trilingual. It features English, Cantonese and Mandarin and is hoped to appeal to both American and Chinese markets. "I had to listen. The process was very collaborative, and I had great support in terms of translators," Reeves said. Keanu Reeves apparently has a big following in China due to The Matrix and his part-Chinese ancestry.
Man of Tai Chi is loosely based on Tiger Chen, a stuntman Reeves met while making The Matrix and its sequels. The main character is even played by Chen, and is a stuntman trying to reconcile his traditional beliefs and those of modern society. He's also a martial arts expert, and Reeves' villainous character gets him involved in the shady world of underground fighting. "As his power rises, we see his loss of innocence and the journey of a man who must confront himself," Reeves said of Chen's character.
"I loved the responsibility of telling a story. I hope I get the chance to do it again," Reeves said. Famed fight scene choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping, who worked on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix, designed a mix of martial arts disciplines that he said have "never been seen on film before."
Reeves showed a few clips of the film at Cannes; they featured high-speed chase sequences and big fight scenes, full of martial arts. "It's like play. There's something childlike about it," he said of the fighting. "They are fake fights—and that's fun."
Watch the trailer for Keanu Reeves' directorial debut in Man of Tai Chi below.