Keanu Reaves – the next Martial Arts icon ?
For many years, Keanu Reaves had bit parts in various TV shows and movies. But it wasn't until the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons that he really started to emerge as an actor. In this 1988 movie, he played the role of a young idealistic lover who was being corrupted. While a large role for Reaves, his part was well overshadowed by the spectacular performances of his co-stars.
He finally did make a name for himself as Ted in the Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure series, which started in 1989. In this comedic role of a dim-witted teenage student trying to travel through time to complete a history presentation, he really seemed to excel. He captured fans around the world and many youths imitated his antics.
That could have been the end of the story. In fact, for many actors, it often is. His co-star, for instance, Alex Winter, has seen little action after this breakthrough movie. But that didn't seem to stop Reaves – or limit his options. Only a few years later, in 1991, he managed to redefine his image once again as Johnny Utah, the cool undercover cop in Point Break. Unlike Eddie Murphy, who made similar shifts during this era, there were no remnants of his comedic background.
He went on to star in a series of dramatic and action roles. It wasn't until the Matrix, however, that he emerged as a potential Martial Arts actor. This amazing 1999 movie propelled Martial Arts back onto the silver screen and create a whole new generation of enthusiasts.
Again, this could very well be the end of our story. In fact, for several of the stars in the 1999 blockbuster, it certainly seems to be. Even with just this one role, he would have gone down in movie history as being part of a great Martial Arts movie and helping to define the standards of many movies to come.
Reaves doesn't seem to want to settle for just that. Just this past year he was cast into the upcoming movie 47 Ronin, a live-action adaptation of an epic samurai tale. It is a tale that has come to exemplify the samurai code of honor, Bushido.
And the latest news is he just secured financial and distribution backing for his directorial debut of a Martial Arts Film, Man of Tai Chi. Filming will begin in February 2012 and take place in Bejing, Hong Kong, and Macau. Reaves will also be starring in this movie as the villain across from a member of the kung fu team in the Matrix, Tiger Chen. There is said to be a great deal of complex fighting scenes that this 47-year-old actor will be involved.
From a directorial standpoint, Reaves has made a smart move in deciding to work closely with the Chinese. China has slowly been emerging as a potential future stage for big Hollywood films, much as New Zealand had in the last decade. Having a Martial Arts film actually filmed in China will helps to give the movie some credence that will be important for the movie to take off.
So, is Keanu Reaves trying to become the next big Martial Arts icon? Can we list his name up there with Jackie Chan and Jet Li? What do you think?
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