10th Aug2017

‘Kung Fu Yoga’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jackie Chan, Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur, Aarif Rahman, Miya Muqi, Sonu Sood, Paul Philip Clark, Yixing Zhang, Yuxian Shang, Jiang Wen, Eric Tsang, Guoli Zhang | Written and Directed by Stanley Tong

kung-fu-yoga-uk-art

Rumble in the Bronx was the film that, finally, broke Hollywood’s doors down for Jackie Chan. Well, with Kung Fu Yoga, Chan reunites with his Bronx director Stanley Tong for a Chinese-Indian co-production that, on paper, sounds like it could be Armour of God 4 in all but name. Yes, this is yet another “Jackie Chan, Treasure Hunter” movie, a la Chinese Zodiac – only this time Chan and co. are exploring not only Chinese history but also India’s rich and religious heritage.

World-renowned archaeology professor Jack and his team are on a grand quest to locate a lost ancient Indian treasure, when they are ambushed by a team of mercenaries and left for dead. Using his vast knowledge of history and kung fu, Jack leads his team on a race around the world to beat the mercenaries to the treasure, and to save an ancient culture.

If there’s one thing I dislike about a number of modern action blockbusters coming out of China right now is the over-reliance in CGI and wire work. Of course wire work is something that has been a staple of the genre for years and can, in small doses and used well, really enhance the on-screen action. Only Kung Fu Yoga goes all-in on wire work, using it for 99% of this films fight scenes! Now I know Jackie Chan is getting on a bit, but it seems not only Chan but all the cast here rely on wires to help them look like they “know kung fu.”

Then there’s the CGI… Where to begin… How about at the actual beginning of Kung Fu Yoga, which features a COMPLETELY CG-animated Dynasty Warriors style opening featuring a digitised Jack Chan fighting a barrage of Indian soldiers and their 300-strong elephant army! I get that this is supposed to be a flashback/lecture from Chan’s professor Jack but seeing a completely computer generated Jackie Chan in action is a lot worse than the dodgy CGI Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia from the recent Star Wars prequel!

But to the film itself. If you’ve seen the Armour of God films or the more recent Chinese Zodiac, you’ll know what to expect – at least in terms of story – from Kung Fu Yoga. There’s plenty of drama, a huge bundle of laughs (even if some of them are SO  forced – i.e. the lion in the car scene), and the usual over the top fast-paced martial arts action, PLUS respect and heart that comes with a Jackie Chan production. But its in the new cast of characters – including the fantastic Sonu Sood as the films villain – and the international flavour that distinguishes this from Chan’s more-recent oeuvre. In fact the treasure hunting aspect of the movie, incorporating a huge variety of locations and a myriad of nationalities, really adds an extra level of interest to proceedings. And, of course, given the Indian influence, there’s a huge Bollywood-style dance number to round out the movie as the credits roll instead of the usual outtakes!

I could ramble on about how this particular film was no doubt created strictly because the film was co-financed by Indian and Chinese sources, and that has impacted on the overall story, undoubtedly compromising what could have been a Mission: Impossible-esque action-adventure… Who am I kidding! Kung Fu Yoga pure modern-day Jackie Chan. There’s a reason Chan keeps making movies (besides the star power of his name), it’s because he knows his audience well, and knows what they want to see: fun, excitement and action all rolled into a perfect family-friendly package. But can we just accept that these ARE all Armour of God sequels now? Even if no-one will admit it?

Kung Fu Yoga is out now on DVD and Digital from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment / Well Go USA.

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