Rating: 2.5 stars
Quick take: Jackie Chan’s great Indian misadventures
Twenty years ago, Jackie Chan in a Hindi / Indian film would have been a ‘break the internet’ moment. But back then, the internet hadn’t yet gained the momentum it does today, nor had the Chinese movie producers found such keen interest in the Indian market. So it took a directive from Chinese President Xi Jinping to have Chinese film companies carve out an action adventure where Jackie Chan hops across India to look for a mythical treasure. The result is a Chinese adventure film looking like an Indian magnus opus. Sadly, even with Jackie Chan’s presence, Kung-Fu Yoga doesn’t seem all that fabulous. It’s great to see Chan in a song and dance routine like regular Hindi film superstars. But the crazy fun that Jackie Chan versus Sonu Sood could’ve been just doesn’t materialise at all.
The story deals with a Chinese archeology expert named Jack being summoned in India to look for a lost treasure. If that sounds like a left over Indiana Jones premise, you’re a certified Harrison Ford fan. What differentiates Kung-fu Yoga from Indy’s awesome adventure sagas is the Chinese mythology. In a similar way to his 2005 film The Myth, Chan is also depicted as an ancient Chinese General in Kung-fu Yoga. But that’s just to establish the history of a lost Indian treasure during a Chinese conquest. It’s the makers’ way of making the story relevant to both China and India. With that quick history lesson taken care of, Kung-fu Yoga concentrates on the adventures of Indiana Chan aka Jack and the lovely brains and beauty combination of Disha Patani (Ashmita) and Amyra Dastur. Their country hopping quests are foiled by Sonu Sood, who is curiously named Randall. He plays the greedy villain who’s got ill-trained soldiers and animals as part of his private army. Also, he’s technically the rightful heir to the lost treasure. Jet setting between China, India and Dubai… Kung-Fu Yoga serves up really exotic fare.
Director Stanley Tong’s action adventure movie can best be described like a cross between a Rohit Shetty film and Jackie Chan’s Armour Of God movies. Its an action comedy with flying cars, outrageous stunts and ailly humour. The only problem is there’s a lot of bad CGI at work in Kung-Fu Yoga. Some of it does make you laugh in a The Hangover movies sort of way. But most of it just looks like it was created at an Indian animation studio in a tearing hurry. You have Jackie Chan fending off CGI animals with the help of some cable enhanced stunts. At the age of 62, Chan is sprightly, but he’s a shadow of his former glorious self. He still pulls off some great stunts but this is not the same legendary stuff millennial grew up on.
Disha Patani and Sonu Sood have major roles, but they’re not too well fleshed out. At all times both stars look like glorified sidekicks, but Sonu Sood does have some nice punchlines. The Indian cast does more than a capable job at holding Kung-Fu Yoga together. But apart from the usual Jackie Chan quick fire stunts and the novelty of seeing him in exotic Indian locations, this movie doesn’t offer a lot more. It doesn’t help that India is mostly depicted through palaces, elephants and snakes. Even though it does get the point across that this is a film about Jackie Chan in India.
With a generous runtime of almost 2.5 hours, Kung-fu Yoga does outstay its welcome. If you’re an absolutely blind fan of Jackie Chan and his recent brand of humour infused action movies in Hong Kong, you’ll find this Indo-China movie a bit of a drag. If you have no starry hangovers of Jackie Chan Kung-Fu Yoga is not the film for you.