MOVIE REVIEW: KUNG FU YOGA (2017)

Jack (Jackie Chan) is an archeology professor who is introduced to the lovely Ashmita (Disha Patani) who has a map to find a lost Indian treasure. Jack and his assistants agree to help but as any noble archeologist would do, he hopes to give the treasure, if they find it, to the government. It’s not as easy as it sounds when Randall (Sonu Sood) wants it for more selfish reasons. Once the treasure is discovered, a globe-trotting romp ensues with Jackie and his team trying to outsmart Randall and his team but who will come out on to and who does the treasure actually belong to?

Jackie Chan is 62 years old now and his days of putting his body through severe punishment (in order to entertain his fans) is long over. So where does this put him? What type of films should he be making? His dramatic turn in films like LITTLE BIG SOLDIER and 1911 where very welcome and he has proven himself to be a terrific actor. He can never escape who he was or the types of films his fans hope to see him in and KUNG FU YOGA is the perfect vehicle for him. He doesn’t try to relive past glories, he accepts his age, limitations, etc. and does his best to deliver the entertainment. I haven’t had this much fun watching a Jackie Chan film in a very long time. The humor is really well timed, the action delivers what you would expect as well as showcasing younger talent like Aarif Rahman (COLD WAR). Don’t count Jackie out though, he has several really fun fight scenes reminding us why he’s a legend. A huge reason for the films’ success is writer/director Stanley Tong (SUPERCOP) who is a long-time friend and collaborator. These two have always meshed so well and I feel Tong knew just exactly how to give fans what they want from Jackie without compromising.

The film is far from perfect, the use of CGI creatures felt way over done to me. Snakes, wolves, etc. were all CG. One particular sequence with hyenas didn’t completely work for me. The chase scene with the CG lion in the back seat of Jackie’s car however was hysterical. Some good, some bad, but in the thick of it all, KUNG FU YOGA is an absolute blast from start to the Bollywood song and dance finale. Merging the two cultures into one film like this allows for Tong to not only show off the Hong Kong aesthetic but it’s also vibrant with color and scenery like a film from India. This film is a total success, where films like CHINESE ZODIAC failed miserably, KUNG FU YOGA makes up for any misstep Chan may have made over the years. With the superb (and darker turn for Jackie) trailer for THE FOREIGNER, it appears he’s been invigorated and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.

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