Kung Fu Yoga review round-up: Jackie Chan, Sonu Sood film updates 2005's Myth
After Jackie Chan's recent and high-profile visit to India, the film it was all in aid of — Kung Fu Yoga — has also made it to our shores.
Unlike xXx: return of Xander Cage, which released here a full week before it did in the rest of the world, as a nod to its leading lady, Deepika Padukone, Kung Fu Yoga hasn't given Indian theatregoers the red carpet treatment.
Having already released in China last weekend, the action-comedy caper opens in Indian cinemas on Friday, 3 February.
Early reviews for the film have been mixed. Kung Fu Yoga is said to be an upgrade of Jackie Chan's 2005 film The Myth (which had an appearance by Mallika Sherawat). In this film, Chan and his Myth director Stanley Tong reunite, and rope Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur and Sonu Sood into the proceedings.
Chan plays a Tang Dynasty envoy to India, who helps defend the kingdom of Magadha against a renegade general. But when he's making his way back to China, he's cut off from his Indian envoy by an avalanche.
Cut to the present, and Chan plays an archaeologist named — wait for it, Jack Chan — who has been approached by an Indian history professor Ashmita (Disha Patani) to help recover a magical gemstone that was lost when the Indian envoy was buried under the avalanche.
If the plot sounds remarkably similar to The Myth, that's because it is. In The Myth as well, Chan played an archaeologist looking for a lost gem in India, on the quest for which he has flashbacks to his life as a Qin Dynasty general.
However, since The Myth sank without a trace at the box office, it's highly likely that viewers will find enough that is new in Kung Fu Yoga to keep them interested.
Here's what reviewers had to say about Chan's latest:
"As the leading man, Chan keeps the ball rolling with an assortment of neat acrobatic tricks and martial arts sparring, but his days of life-risking physical exertion is over," writes Maggie Lee in Variety. "The three gorgeous Indian actors, none of them big names, give feisty turns in skimpily written roles; the members of the Chinese cast, other than casually charismatic Aarif Lee Rahman, are forgettable. Tech credits by the Hong Kong crew are pro across the board... Stunt and action choreography by Tong, Chan, and Wu Gang involve predatory animals and cobras in scenes that are sometimes thrilling, other times moronic."
Meanwhile, calling Kung Fu Yoga even sillier than its title, the AV Club's Ignatiy Vishnvetsky says, "Kung Fu Yoga is an exercise in quantity over quality: an attempted return to the star’s Hong Kong action-slapstick roots, randomly assembled from pieces of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Pink Panther-era caper comedies, and the little-loved mid-2000s Chan vehicle The Myth (for which it serves as a bizarre quasi-remake), with a Lord Of The Rings fantasy battle sequence, a Fast And Furious-type luxury car chase, a Bollywood dance number, and not one, not two, but four different scenes involving CGI animals thrown in for the hell of it. The non-stop cycling of locations, crowd-pleaser modes, and groan-inducing gags makes for some watchable silliness."
Gulf News' review states: "It’s all a bit cheesy, but there’s some pleasure to be had from Chan’s comic antics and adventures. The scenes in which the blustering professor tries to woo and impress Ashmita are pure comic gold and his martial arts sparring with treasure hunter Jones, played by Aarif Lee Rahman, is thoroughly entertaining," before concluding, "This could be your chance to see Chan in an Indian tunic, shake a leg to a Bollywood song. It’s one of those feel-good moments befitting a comic caper that’s a mix of action, Bollywood and exoticism."
And The New York Times' Andy Webster writes: Despite its subtext about the economic rivalry between China and India, the film, written and directed by Mr Chan’s frequent collaborator Stanley Tong, mostly affords Mr Chan the opportunity to mug, share a car chase scene with a lion (seemingly with a digital assist) and thwart assailants in a pallid variation on his acrobatics of old... But you won’t find Mr Chan’s customary bloopers over the closing credits. For Mr Chan, the era for elaborate body stunts, be they botched or successfully executed, seems to have ended."