Kung Fu Yoga is an Indo-Chinese co-production starring Jackie Chan in the lead role of a famous Chinese archaeologist who must collaborate with an Indian professor to hunt down an ancient Indian treasure. Directed by Stanley Tong, Kung Fu Yoga co-stars Sonu Sood, Zhang Yixing, Disha Patani, and Amyra Dastur. The film is being looked upon as a celebration of two great cultures/civilizations i.e. Indian and Chinese. Needless to say, the world knows China for its Kung Fu and India for its Yoga. At their very core both Yoga and Kung Fu are as much mental (read mind) as they are physical (read body). It is the marriage of mind and body that makes a grandmaster and a yogi tick.
Kung Fu Yoga is more about Kung Fu and less about Yoga. But it is neither the raw and gritty Kung Fu of Bruce Lee that the action enthusiasts crave for nor it is the glamorized Kung Fu that’s often associated with Wuxia films. So, is it the Jackie Chan comedic Kung Fu that often involves a lot of props? Well, although a lot many fight scenes in Kung Fu Yoga involve props we don’t really get to witness the characteristic Jackie Chan Kung Fu that we witnessed in films like Police Story 4: First Strike(1996) or The Legend of the Drunken Master (1994). But no Jackie Chan movie can do without featuring extended lengths of Kung Fu sequences. And who better than the director of Jackie Chan classics like Supercop (1992) and Rumble in the Bronx (1995) to understand this? In Kung Fu Yoga, Stanley Tong tries his best to treat the fans of Chan with a mix of old and new. The result is a kind of action that looks good on the screen but fails to create any lasting impact. Nonetheless, Jackie Chan remains as kickass at 62 as he looked at 24. The master certainly has a few more action roles left in him.
Kung Ku Yoga basically comes across as a concoction of Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, and Fast and Furious movies. And the references are too direct to leave anything to imagination. Kung Fu Yoga suffers from a disjointed plot. The transitions between the scenes are too abrupt. At the heart of the movie is a car chase sequence set in Dubai that’s high on adrenaline-pumping action; the scene also features some cool comic relief moments, vintage Jackie Chan. There is another breathtaking sequence involving hyenas that stand out. And, of course, there’s lots of cool snake action as one would expect with treasure hunt movies set in India. Although, Kung Fu Yoga shows the uber-modern side of Dubai, it chooses to present a rather exotic picture of India, one that harks back to Rudyard Kipling’s depiction of India. As a matter of fact of all the scenes in the movie it is the scenes set in India that are most colorful and vibrant and while they may not reflect the India of today they do serve as vignettes of India’s rich cultural tradition.
Overall, Kung Fu Yoga makes for a decent one-time watch for family audiences. Kids would love it in particular. As a matter of fact, had it got released during the summer vacations, it would have served as a perfect summer blockbuster. But the Chinese New Year weekend didn’t prove to be a bad choice either as obvious from the domestic box-office figures. Apart from the action scenes the movie also offers some cute comic moments. But the plot is a major letdown even for a movie of its kind. However, Kung Fu Yoga shouldn’t just be seen from the point of view of entertainment and commerce. For, the film is a crucial step forward for Indo-China relations. Hopefully, it would pave for more such collaborations in the days to come. While Kung Fu Yoga is an out and out Jackie Chan film, as one would expect, it does feature memorable performances from Sonu Sood, who is also the movie’s distributor for India, and the lovely Disha Patani who is a sight for the sore eyes. Chan, Sood and Patani are of course well supported by the others. Kung Fu Yoga is nowhere near the best of Jackie Chan. But then we all know that the grandmaster is well past his prime. Be that as it may, Chan still has a few surprises left up his sleeve.
P.S. Kung Fu Yoga is set to release in four languages viz. English, Hindu, Tamil, and Telugu across India on 3rd February 2017.
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Kung Fu Yoga Trailer (YouTube)
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