- "Heeegh!! You're not going to Hong Kong!! Because the Great Chai will defeat you!! Heegh Heegh Heegh!!"
- ―Chai about to fight Ryo for the second time
Chai (チャイ Chai) is a low ranking member of the Chi You Men who stalks Ryo Hazuki and learns of the existence of the Phoenix Mirror. He is a central antagonist in the first Shenmue and is the final boss of the game and he is an antagonist in Shenmue III. He seems eager to impress Lan Di and work for him, so makes it his goal to steal the Phoenix Mirror from Ryo so that he can pass it on to Lan Di. He also becomes involved with Terry Ryan and the Mad Angels to further his goals.
Chai's motives are very mysterious. It is implied he may have lived in poverty, or is still living in poverty, indicated by his starved appearance (he has a weight of 55 kg/121 lbs which is quite underweight for an adult man), dental hygiene (he lacks many teeth and the remaining ones seem decayed), and lack of shoes. He also seems unable to stand up completely straight, implying he has a spinal condition and is unable to treat it by himself, and he has to nearly walk on all fours. It is possible that the Chi You Men are using him for their dirty work in exchange for wealth.
He speaks erratically with a somewhat garbled accent. He seems a bit vain, calling himself the "great Chai". Although unclear, he also seems to suffer from a mental illness of some sort, and he often has a manic expression in his bloodshot eyes.
Chai uses a strange style of martial arts loosely based on Tanglangquan, which seem to match well with his strange appearance and physique.
Chai first appears in Yokosuka, although it is unsure whether he was sent there by Lan Di or followed on his own. He keeps a close eye on Ryo and those around him, eventually discovering that Ryo has in his possession the Phoenix Mirror.
Chai later fights Ryo inside the You Arcade after Chai steals Ryo's ticket to Hong Kong and eats it. This is a very tough fight to win, but losing progresses the game anyway, and there is no real reward in winning, other than a feeling of satisfaction and being able to progress the game by encountering Jimmy Yan soon.
He follows him all the way to the New Yokosuka Harbor District where Ryo is meeting with Guizhang Chen and Master Chen, and manages to steal the mirror. However his victory is short lived and the mirror is taken back by the effort of Guizang and Ryo. Chai doesn't quit there and swears to get back at them.
Chai goes into league with Terry, the leader of a gang called the Mad Angels that operates in the harbor who have also been having trouble with Ryo. With both their efforts they kidnap Nozomi Harasaki to get Ryo to meet them at the harbor. This attempt at dealing with Ryo again fails, not only does he rescue Nozomi, but, he and Guizhang, defeat the Mad Angels.
Shortly after, as Ryo and Guizhang are about to leave for Hong Kong, Chai appears again to take the mirror. Hanging on a metal bar above them, Chai drops it down on Ryo, but Guizhang pushes Ryo out of the way, saving him but injures his leg. Chai then proceeds to fight Ryo but is defeated and gets knocked into the sea.
In an unlockable side-story comic included on the Xbox version of Shenmue II and its re-release Shenmue I & II, Chai is following Ryo onto the boat to Hong Kong and making another attempt to fight with him. He kidnaps a young girl who is a passenger aboard the ship to make Ryo fight him, but is defeated and, once again, knocked into the sea.
Later, when Ryo and Shenhua Ling leave Xiuyu Yeh's house, Chai appears from the roof and steals a treasure scroll Shenhua is carrying. Chai comments that Ryo is weaker than him, and fights Ryo to prove it, although Ryo pins him down. Ryo uses pressure to force Chai to talk. Chai reveals the Chi You Men transported the stonemasons on a boat to Niaowu. Chai escapes Ryo's grasp and scurries away again.
Chai appears in a warehouse in Niaowu, holding the stonemasons hostage, but he is defeated by Ryo. Chai is not seen after, although he may travel to the mountains with the Chi You Men to obtain the mysterious treasure.
Chai appears as an antagonist in Shenmue the Animation. In Episode 1, as Lan Di is leaving in his black car after murdering Iwao, Chai is on a rooftop and hears that Lan Di is looking for the other mirror he doesn't have. Eager to impress Lan Di and earn a high rank in the Chi You Men, Chai ambushes Ryo at the Hazuki Dojo, demanding he hand over the mirror, and gets the upper hand in the fight at first. After Ryo listens to his father's advice, he defeats Chai and then he flees.
In Episode 2, Chai feels humiliated that he got beat up by a kid, and stalks Ryo in the shadows. In Episode 3, Ryo finds the Phoenix Mirror and takes it to Master Chen at Warehouse #8, but Chai suddenly appears and takes the mirror from him. Guizhang attempts to fight Chai, but ends up being no match for him. With the combined efforts of Master Chen, Guizhang, and Ryo, they get the mirror back from Chai and he flees.
- Chai resembles Gollum from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings films. However, as an inversion, Gollum's signature look is from the 2001 film and Shenmue was released in 1999, so Chai's design is not inspired by Gollum.
- There is a unused Chai model in Shenmue II's files. He can appear anywhere in the game through model swapping.
- Chai has a AB blood type.
- Chai uses the fighting style of Lion Rafale from the Virtua Fighter series.
- In Shenmue III, Chai's room can be seen through a peephole which contains amusing things. These include a second copy of his clothes, watermelon and bananas, a poster of Chai with "Kukeeeeeee!" on it, a picture of Chai with a woman and girl with faces like him, a map and documents written in Chinese, and a punching dummy with a picture of Ryo.
- Regarding Shenmue III, Yu Suzuki claimed that the boat chapter will be fully playable for the first time which is chapter 2 of the Shenmue saga where Chai is the antagonist. However, this did not appear in the game, although it might be adapted into the DLC.
|Shenmue Wiki has a gallery for Chai.|