Having starred in massive hits such as The Matrix triology, Toronto-born Keanu Reeves is now turning his hand to directing. But his many female fans needn't worry - as his handsome features will also grace screens in his latest project: Man Of Tai Chi.
The actor-director was in China recently to promote the film - which is hoped will be a cross-border, cross-cultural hit. The movie has been many years in the making and was instigated by the close friendship that Keanu developed with his martial arts instructor, Tiger Chen, on the set of the Matrix films.
During a promotional event at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2013, he described how he and Chen bonded during their eight-hours-a-day training sessions for The Matrix. "He was helping me with the kicks and punches, and then we started telling each other stories," he said. Chen would talk about his own martial arts master, who would tempt birds to his hand with seed and then, according to Reeves' memory of the story, "take their chi" (or life-force).
Reeves added: "We became friends and stayed in touch. He started acting, and we decided to do something together. Over five years, we developed a story."
Keanu admitted that working on a film in English, Mandarin and Cantonese was a challenge but that members of the team had worked together on previous projects and so there was a good level of trust. The film was heavily financed by the Chinese government and is sure to be a hit there - Keanu is already a big star in China thanks to the success of his Matrix films and his ancestry - (one of his great-grandparents was Chinese, he has previously stated).
The stars of the film have taken the promotional junket around eight-cities - including Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, Dalian and Beijing and screenings in Shanghai - to coincide with the International Film Festival there.
The Man Of Tai Chi will premiere in China on July 5 and later in the autumn worldwide.