The guy loves action movies
Scene: The final showdown in Man of Tai Chi
Keanu's sincere love of his go-to genre gives integrity to outlandish movies like Speed or the dopey Johnny Mnemonic. It's no surprise that his only work as a director was with the 2013 martial arts film Man of Tai Chi.
Not only are the movie's action sequences sculpted by Keanu, it's also the rare instance where he plays the antagonist instead of the hero. The latter role is taken up by Tiger Chen, a martial artist/stuntman who worked on The Matrix films. With the help of legendary fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (Kill Bill, The Grandmaster, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) the narratively simple film is brimming with great fight sequences. There isn't any overly complicated editing cutting from the action. Instead, Keanu, as much as he's done as an actor, gets out of the way, letting the film be a showcase for Tiger Chen and the genre itself.
Man of Tai Chi isn't groundbreaking, opting for reverence toward the genre and martial arts styling that have become synonymous with Keanu’s career. In many ways Man of Tai Chi distills what makes Keanu an amazing action star and director: his respect and knowledge of the craft. The film puts on display what has made Keanu a wondrous presence in action films since the 1990s: grace, impeccable ability to tell stories through balletic stunt work, unabashed joyfulness, and an ambition for spectacle. His films move, in every sense of the word.