*NOTE: Before I start this review, I would like to thank Novo Cinemas for inviting me to the premiere of this film.*
‘Kung Fu Yoga’ was one of the weirdest film experiences I’ve had in my life.
It is a film that managed to make me go from cringing at the over-the-top cheesiness to actually being entertained and back to cringing with a frequency that would make ‘Suicide Squad’ blush. I will say though that the scenes of the film that did entertain me had one common element – Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan acts here like he did in his prime, doing what he does best i.e mixing comedy and martial arts with great aplomb. This fact is made even more incredible considering that the legendary star is now 62.
And that’s pretty much the only good thing I have to say about this trainwreck.
The acting (apart from Jackie) is horrid, with Disha Patani who we’re initially supposed to believe is an archaeologist being the worst of the bunch. The writing is abysmal and the cinematography, while decent in parts, is really nothing to write home about.
What Kung Fu Yoga essentially is (or atleast wants to be) is budget-Indiana Jones with Jackie Chan instead of Harrison Ford, (A scene in the film even makes a reference to Indiana Jones while ripping it off, thinking that the reference makes the ripping-off okay) but with none of the…you know…”good”.
The plot resembles more of a powerpoint presentation than anything else, with a treasure hunt being the framing device where Jackie Chan, who plays an archaeologist called, you guessed it, ‘Jackie’ and his team of students? colleagues? (I was never really sure) jump around from exotic location to exotic location in search of a treasure with Sonu Sood playing the obligatory villain out to get them.
Needless to say, the plot isn’t the greatest around but what really astounds me though is that now, we have video-games like Uncharted 4 which also revolves around a treasure-hunt, contain more nuance in its writing and story as well as more memorable characters than a full-blown, big-budget feature film like Kung Fu Yoga.
Throughout the film, I couldn’t believe just how incompetent everything, apart from Jackie Chan and his action scenes, actually felt. This was even more disappointing considering the fact that the film is directed by Stanley Tong, the director behind absolute gems like ‘Rumble in the Bronx’ and the mostly excellent ‘Police Story’ films.
The biggest offence this film commits apart from the lacklustre script and acting is probably the stereotypes that it whole-heartedly and unironically embraces. Portraying an India where snake-charmers and rope climbing fakirs can be found in every nook and cranny, the fact that this film was supposedly an Indo-China collaboration simply adds insult to injury. As though this wasn’t enough, the film ends with an honest-to-goodness bollywood dance number. My face could only handle so much cringing.
There was perhaps, one sustained action sequence in the film set in Dubai that managed to keep me thoroughly entertained though. The only sequence perhaps, that showed evidence of a much better film hidden beneath the one we got. I should also give props to the way the fight scenes were captured, with each choreographed scene being shot with the most minimum of edits for maximum impact. Although, I guess even the credit of that should go to Jackie Chan who, at this point, probably doesn’t need camera edits to do the work for him.
This is an instantly forgettable film that is made watchable only by Jackie Chan. A flick to fall asleep to while on a long-haul flight.