English Film Review
Spuriously adventurous Exotica
Film: Kung Fu Yoga
Cast: Jackie Chan, Aarif Rahman, Sonu Sood, Lay Zhang, Disha Patani, Zhang Guoli, Amyra Dastur, Eric Tsang
Director: Stanley Tong
Rating: * * ½
Runtime: 107 min.
‘Octopussy’ meets ‘Indiana Jones’ and the resultant is not exactly thrilling. Jack Chan(Jackie Chan) is supposedly one of the most renowned archaeologists in China, a self-confessed Indiana Jones fan and an Indophile to boot-giving lectures on the Bhagwad Gita and well versed in the Mahabharatha, so it’s no surprise when a young, pretty counterpart from India, Asmita(Disha Patani) and her assistant Kyra(Amrya Dastur) come to him to decode an ancient map that is supposed to hint at a vast family treasure buried somewhere within the India-Tibet border.
He is 62 years old but still as sprightly as a young buck and can teach his martial arts trained nephew (Aarif Rahman) whom he recruits as one of his expedition members, a thing or two about defense. So when the Indian patrician Randall(Sonu Sood) and his army of International goons swoops down on their discovery- the key to the lost treasures carried by Bhima and his troops, who got swept away by the avalanche, Chan is up to the task but sadly outnumbered.
So what if Chan isn’t young anymore? Director Stanley(Rumble in the Bronx) Tong makes sure he gets the lion’s share of the action adventure- literally having him team up with a lion during a car chase, outsmart wolves on snow capped peaks, guide his young team members out of a cage teaming with hungry hyenas, spend time exploring Rajasthan in all it’s colorful glory and eventually getting down to finding the treasure which includes a miniature temple made of gold and a golden Shiva statute. The action is swift and the agile acrobatics are still part of his repertoire but the high wire body stunts are kept out. A whole lot of hand and leg combat in the climactic sequence ends quite tamely in a lively dance , that is meant to pay affectionate tribute to Bollywood’s big production numbers. The riff is on the theme song “OM Shanti Om” choreographed with colorful flair by our very own Farah Khan.
While the historical facts don’t stand up to close scrutiny, neither do the locations(Iceland, Dubai, Rajasthan), nor the Indo-China story mash-up. This one is wildly imaginative of a fictitious past that merges the history of ancient India & China in order to rev up an exotic adventure. The Indian contingent have a lot to do too. Sonu Sood as ace villain is full of vigor, Disha Patani makes her presence felt while Amrya Dastur also has her moments. Yoga bears a mention or two but it’s not as significant as the title indicates. The director manages to squeeze in monumental shots of Rajasthan’s Mehrangar Fort, Mangore Gardens, opulent palaces and other spectacular backdrop shots as part of the lead-up to the Magadha kingdom which is in actuality 700 miles away, in Patna. The CGI work is a little patchy but the cinematography makes it all look bright and inviting. It’s all part and parcel of this intentionally spurious spectacle - a harmless comedic one at that!