Film: “Kung Fu Yoga”; Director: Stanley Tong; Cast: Jackie Chan, Sonu Sood, Disha Patani, Aarif Lee Rahman, Yixing Zhang, Mu Qimiya, Zhang Guoli, Eric Tsang, Amyra Dastur and Coco Jiang; Rating: **
The title conjures an exciting amalgamation of practices of world’s most ancient and traditional civilisations — Chinese and Indian martial arts with the spiritual and ascetic discipline of meditation, breath-control and body postures for health and relaxation. But alas! These elude you in the film.
Kung fu and Yoga are probably what the cast and crew of the film intended to indulge in while making the film, but landed up having fun and frolic on the sets. And, this is what reflects in the end product — a mishmash of ideologies and a B-grade entertainer. It is an ungainly action-adventure that ties the Chinese and Indian film industries together.
Released in Hindi and English, the film is steeped in a superficially crafted history. The narration begins with an ostentatiously impressive slapstick fight scene in motion capture animation reiterating the tale of Wang Xuance, the envoy of the Tang dynasty to India, who defended the Kingdom of Magadha from its rebellious general Arunasava. This prologue forms the back story to the contemporary setting.
The plot, though convoluted, begins in present day China, where Jack is a reputed Chinese archaeologist who has invented an infra-light technology to study ancient artefacts. He is approached by an Indian princess and her younger sister who are impersonating a history professor and her assistant, to read a vintage map which was left by her ancestors. They claim that the map would lead them to the lost treasures of their ancestors.
Paying tribute to Indiana Jones, Jack along with the princesses, a treasure hunter Jones and an oil-drilling expert Jianhua, land in the Kunlun Mountains where they find the cave along with the treasures. But soon, Randall — a descendent of Arunasava — arrives with his cronies to lay his claim. A cat and mouse chase ensues, till both the parties are fatigued with the shenanigans.
The story is a flighty and frivolous reboot of a number of earlier treasure hunt films. The screenplay and dialogues are too skewed to cater to the mindless frontbenchers ogling at the colourful sets and slapstick kitsch. Among the dialogues that stand out is when Randall tells Jack, “Stop boring me with your superstitions” — when he actually meant, stop boring me with your lessons in astrology.
Also with just one reference to yoga, the writing along with the incoherent screenplay weights down this caper.
But what keeps you glued to your seat are the kinetic, by-the-numbers action sequences strewn throughout the plot along with the slapstick humour that accompanies the action.
Jackie Chan has the star charisma, but he lacks the energy and vitality to carry the action thriller on his shoulders. He is aptly supported by his co-stars but then, they lack magnetism. Their actions by far are perfunctory, nevertheless, they leave a mark onscreen. Impressive among the few are Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur as Asmita and Kyra – the Indian princesses, Arif Lee Rahman as Jones, Eric Tsang as Jianhua and Yixing Zhang as Jack’s assistant Xiaoguang.
On the other hand, Sonu Sood as Randall, is totally mediocre.
On the production front, the camera work, editing and sound design are of ace quality. But with a potpourri of races; Caucasian, Chinese, Aryans and Dravidians, interspersed on the screen the film looks like a confused composition especially during the stunts and dance sequences. The locales too seem to be far from authentic. Tacky in appearance, they seem to be studio created.
All in all, the film is a time-pass B grade entertainer.
By Troy Ribeiro