Two professors team up to locate a lost treasure and embark on an adventure that takes them from a Tibetan ice cave to Dubai to a mountain temple in India.
There’s nothing more embarrassing than watching Jackie Chan in his latest action comedy, “Kung Fu Yoga.” Growing up in Ireland in the ’70s and ’80s, I didn’t have an awful lot to do so my friends and I would rent videos, martial arts videos to be exact. Anything with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris was enough to keep us preoccupied. Jackie Chan is a legend, the man who almost died so many times because he never used safety precautions in his earlier movies as he would jump off cliffs, leap onto rope ladders attached to a helicopter, hang onto the back of a bus using only an umbrella, and slide down a 100-foot pole wrapped in lights and then crash through a glass ceiling, is now reduced to poorly imitating Indiana Jones and breaking into a song and dance routine. Seriously, I kid you not.
The director of this fiasco is none other than Stanley Tong, the man who delivered many of Jackie Chan’s earlier and much better films like “First Strike,” “Rumble in the Bronx,” and “Supercop.” I honestly have no idea what both men were thinking when they decided to make “Kung Fu Yoga” but I hope to God that I never see anything like it again.
The movie intentionally rips off Indiana Jones and makes no apologies for doing so. Because “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is my all-time favorite movie, it was very easy to pick up on the references. Chan plays Jack, one of China’s most well-known archaeologists and as the story begins, he has just finished lecturing some students at the Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xi’an. After the class, a young girl approaches him and when she closes her eyes, her eyelids have little love hearts on them, just like the girl in the opening of “Raiders.” He is then approached by a colleague who informs him that Ashmita (Disha Patani), a beautiful Indian professor, has come to town and wants to meet with him. She presents a treasure map and asks for his assistance in trying to locate the lost Magadha treasure in Tibet. He agrees and begins to explain that a former colleague and friend of his, spent his entire life dedicated to trying to find this treasure but now that he has passed, all of that information would be left with his son, whose name is…are you ready for this? Jones! Yes, you read that right, his name is Jones.
Jack and his two assistants team up with Jones and Ashmita and their adventure takes them all over the world, from a Tibetan ice cave to Dubai to a mountain temple in India. Along the way, they locate a rare diamond that fits into a staff and when placed in a room, at a certain time of day, the sun shines directly through the diamond and tells them where to take their next move. Just as this is happening, Jack exclaims, “I love Indiana Jones!”
Filled with car chases, zany martial arts fight scenes and some impressive set pieces, the film culminates inside an ancient Indian temple where Jack must lead the way. After fighting with the bad guys, the entire cast suddenly breaks into a song and dance routine that literally had me wiping my eyes in disbelief. As a filmmaker myself for over thirty years, I understand the reasoning behind a particular movie inspiring you. The films that inspired me to become a filmmaker are too many to list but obviously, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was the big one but I would never go out and intentionally parody that movie, including stealing lines of dialogue, scene replications, and set pieces, it just really makes your film pale in comparison. While Jackie Chan was a physical marvel in his youth, now that the man is 63-years-old, he cannot perform the same kinds of stunts he was once able to do with his eyes closed so the use of a stunt double is now more evident, and the use of wires for those scenes involving big physical action scenes are noticeable too.
I have no earthly idea why Chan and Tong would team up to make an abomination like this. Even during some of the car chases, the overabundance of CGI is evident so instead of seeing an actual car crash on the road, a CGI vehicle is quickly inserted so not to be as noticeable but believe me, it’s very obvious. At one point in the movie, Chan hijacks an SUV to chase the bad guys and quickly realizes that there is a fully grown lion in the back. Yes really, a lion. It growls and snarls at him and moves from side to side and back and forth, depending on how Chan is driving and when the chase is over, the lion exits the vehicle and proceeds to throw up, poking fun at Chan’s erratic driving. And of course, the lion is completely CGI. A quick glimpse and you might get away with it but seeing the lion interact with Chan for the duration of the car chase, it’s like the filmmakers didn’t care how bad it looked, they just wanted to include it anyway as they obviously thought it was hilarious.
There is absolutely nothing about this movie to recommend, not even Chan himself can save it so please, do yourself a favor, if you want to see a great Jackie Chan film, watch “Police Story,” “Project A,” or “Armour of God,” hell, even Chan in “The Cannonball Run” is better than this disaster.
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