Jackie Chan’s typical formula is not enough to hold this bland comedy together.
“Some call it ‘destiny’, some may call it ‘meant to be’, but I call it ‘I make it happen’.”
Oh boy, it’s one of these ones. The quality of dialogue in Jackie Chan’s 2017 Chinese-Indian martial arts comedy is an indicator for the kind of affair you’ll be getting. It’s getting hard to get excited over a big, new Jackie Chan action comedy, isn’t it? What used to be a whole lot of hype for something in the vein of Drunken Master is now a hope that maybe this one won’t be CZ12. Let’s have a look at what Kung Fu Yoga has to offer us, shall we?
Jackie Chan plays … surprise, surprise, a character called Jack, a professor of archaeology who, with his two teaching assistants, teams up with an Indian professor (Disha Patani) and treasure hunter Jones (Aarif Rahman) to find and retrieve a Magadha treasure, supposedly lost in Tibet. However, they’re not the only people after the treasure. The wealthy and villainous Randall (Sonu Sood) and his crew chase after Jack to steal the treasure from them. What follows is … well, it’s all pretty generic, and a little bit dumb.
Kung Fu Yoga tries to go big in a number of sequences, most notably the opening history lesson. The thing is, while the setup is appreciated – and it’s nice to see it shown as a huge action set-piece – it’s incredibly distracting when it looks like we’re watching a videogame cutscene from 2005. The CGI in this movie is about 80% terrible and unfortunately turns what could have been some great sequences into awkward, clunky moments of the cast trying to fight off a hyena that clearly isn’t there. In trying to make itself seem grandiose, the film ends up looking cheap and unfinished.
But hey, at least the action is good, mostly (but we’ll get to that in a bit). Jackie Chan is still a joy to watch on screen, especially when he’s throwing down. He’s still kicking like a madman with the speed and agility of somebody one third his age. Even the others get a couple of chances to shine, which is good as I don’t often get to see South Asian actors on this site and I’m thankful to see just how likeable they all are. Despite the cool fights, the movie’s really strongest when it’s small, and deals with the characters interacting. Sure, the dialogue and the story is dumb and the English acting is (yet again) abysmal but at least everyone has good chemistry.
In the end, there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, even in Stanley Tong’s own filmography. The third and fourth Police Story films aren’t amazing, but at least they’re better than this. The fights are decent, but we’ve seen them done better and more excitingly elsewhere. The comedy is again just alright, with terrible English butchering a good chunk of the jokes. The inclusion of Indian imagery and culture is a nice touch, allowing Chan to go back to the ancient artefacts well without it necessarily having to be about China. And does is end with a big Bollywood dance number? You bet your ass it does.
Verdict: Overly silly, Kung Fu Yoga can only rely on its nods to Indiana Jones for so long before collapsing.
Overall entertainment: 4/10
Sex: 0/10, not even a classic, awkward Jackie Chan boob grab
Actual Yoga: 0/10
Elephant abuse: So much. At least they’re fake.
CGI Animals: Plenty! Some even aren’t terrible
Eric Tsang: Unlike Skiptrace, this one really is just a cameo
Kung Fu Yoga (2017)
Also known as: Gong fu yu jia
Director: Stanley Tong
Writer: Stanley Tong
Jackie Chan – Jack
Aarif Rahman – Jones Lee
Zhang Yixing – Xiaoguang
Miya Muqi – Noumin
Sonu Sood – Randall
Disha Patani – Asmita
Amyra Dastur – Kyra
Muh Bahtiar C – Thyar