REVIEW: Kung Fu Yoga (2017)

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2017, Top Entertainment/Sparkle Roll Media/Taihe Entertainment/Shinework Pictures

Director:
Stanley Tong
Producers:
Jackie Chan
Qi Jianhong
Jonathen Shen
Barbie Tung
Wang Wei
Writer:
Stanley Tong
Cinematography:
Horace Wong
Editing:
Kwong Chi-Leung

Cast:
Jackie Chan (Professor Jack Chen)
Aarif Rahman (Jones Lee)
Lay Zhang (Xiaoguang)
Muqi Miya (Nuomin)
Sonu Sood (Randall)
Disha Patani (Ashmita)
Amyra Dastur (Kyra)
Eric Tsang (Jack’s Friend)
Paul Philip Clark (Max)

Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong reunite for what can essentially be called a sequel to their last collaboration, but the film ultimately is a mixed bag that has both hits and misses.

Professor Jack Chen is one of China’s top archaeologists. Ashmita, a young Indian woman arrives in Jack’s class to inform him that she has a map of an area in India that will lead to the Magadha treasure, a collection of relics that Jack has long been attempting to find. He forms a team with assistants Guomin and Xiaoguang, along with Jones Lee, the son of Jack’s late best friend. In addition, Kyra, Ashmita’s assistant joins the team as well as they head for the Kunlun Mountains.

Randall, the last descendant of a rebel army leader involved in the first war for the treasure centuries ago, is obsessed with getting his hands on the treasure in order to restore the honor of his family. When Jack and the team find a possible lead in the mountain, Randall sends his team to get the treasure. In the midst of the battle, Jones finds the Eye of Shiva and takes off, leaving the group to suffer. After a narrow escape, Kyra and Ashmita return to India while Jack, Nuomin, and Xiaoguang head to Dubai to find Jones, but Randall is not far behind either.

While he had declared that Chinese Zodiac would mark his last big action spectacular, it seems that Jackie Chan just can’t seem to get away from doing his trademark style and as of late, they have come with not too stellar results. Skiptrace had its moments, but wasn’t totally exciting. For his latest film, Chan reunites with Stanley Tong, who directed Chan last in 2005’s The Myth, which started out promising but ended with a very flawed final act due to the duo resorting to some ridiculous moments that even had Chan fans turn the other way. So how does this compare to The Myth?

Well, once again, we do have a mixed bag ultimately in terms of Chan’s trademark style of comedy and action. Virtually playing the same character he played in The Myth, Chan and meshing it with shades of his Armour of God series, Chan treks to Tibet, Dubai, and India to seek ancient treasures that could help solidify China-India relations and gets help from a team consisting of the level headed Muqi Miya, Lay Zhang of Korean-Chinese boyband EXO, and Aarif Rahman, who played Bruce Lee in 2010’s Bruce Lee, My Brother and appears in Cold War and Cold War II. Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur bring some fun international eye candy while Sonu Sood makes for a pretty decent mastermind villain who presents his obsession quite calmly with various JC Stunt Team members playing his henchmen.

In addition, there are some fun action sequences that despite the use of CGI brings a bit of fun to the film. One of the scenes that proves to be quite laughable is a car chase in Dubai in which Chan finds himself driving with a lion in the backseat. Surprisingly, while Chan has the age factor, he is able to bring shades on Operation Condor when it comes to the girls fighting but props have to go to Rahman, who gets quite an good amount of action himself whether he’s fighting some of Randall’s men or even pulling off some pretty good stunts in the car chase scene.

The major flaws come in the overabundance of CGI, from wolves in Tibet, where Eric Tsang makes the most of his cameo appearance, and a ridiculous scene involving an escape from hyenas. As of that is not bad enough, the finale starts off promising but then delves into a truly “what the $&@#” moment that comes out of nowhere and granted, it’s a tribute to Bollywood, but this film could have been better off as a true Bollywood-Chinese movie like 2009’s Chandni Chowk to China.

Kung Fu Yoga is a mixed bag that has some good moments and not so good moments that results into something that is borderline ridiculous. The hardcore Jackie Chan fans may enjoy this film, but if you have grown tired of Chan’s brand of humor and action, then you may want to skip this one.

WFG RATING: C+

Kung Fu Yoga comes to select theaters nationwide tomorrow. Check Well Go USA’s Kung Fu Yoga homepage for theater listings.

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