Kung Fu Yoga (Gong Fu Yu Jia) is an action / comedy movie that unites Jackie Chan and director Stanley Tong (“Supercop,” “Rumble in the Bronx”). This movie came out in January 2017 in selected cities in the US, but I first heard about it when I saw it on Netflix. It did not do well in the US grossing only an estimated $357,000. However, in China, it grossed over $265 million dollars. Not bad for a film that almost every review I saw online said it was terrible, especially reviews from Asia. This was the first movie that was made under the India-China co-production treaty. Maybe this could explain the harsh criticism on both sides.
As I mentioned above, this was produced under the India-China production treaty. Perhaps that is the reason why you see some of both cultures. The opening scenes are all in Mandarin, which I thought it was a typical martial arts movie from Asia, however to my amazement, most of the movie turned out to be in English. The plot is sometimes confusing and not clear. However, this is what the movie is about.
Jackie Chan plays a world renowned Chinese Archeology professor (Jack), who teams up with a beautiful Indian Professor Ashmita and assistant Kyra to locate the lost treasure of Magadha. When they find the remains of the royal army, that according to history, had vanished together with the treasure, they are ambushed by Randal (Sonu Sood) and his mercenaries and left for dead. Using his vast knowledge of history and kung fu, Jack leads his team on a fast-paced race around the world to beat the mercenaries and save an ancient culture.
If you are a fan of the Indiana Jones movies, I am sure you will find something you will like due to some of its similarities. The movie is an Asian take of Indiana Jones. Jackie Chan, like in most of his movies, is still charming and gives this movie some credibility. His fighting style is still the same, perhaps a little less daring than in the past. He looked in great shape for a 62 year old man, and anyone who can still move like that at that age deserves to be applauded. Overall the fight scenes are fine, what you would expect from a martial arts movie. Nothing over the top. Check out this fighting scene from the movie. You will see it is classic Jackie Chan Style:
One disappointment I have is the digital lion that Jackie Chan drives around in his car during a car chase. I understand what the movie was attempting to achieve, however that entire scene did not seem right. Maybe it was an attempt at comedy, but in my opinion, that was not funny at all. Maybe if the Lion would have been done a little better, it would have had the desired affect, but it did not.
Jackie Chan could have used a better villain than Sonu Sood. His character did not look, nor feel like a true villain. Maybe this was done by design….
The cheesiest part of the movie, is the final musical number where everyone breaks out in song and dance unexpectedly. Bollywood star Farah Khan choreographed the final scene. The actual number is good, just to have this at the end of a martial art comedy movie does not seem to fit in my opinion. However, perhaps in India, this was perceived completely differently. Check it out for yourself here with the clip below:
Some might ask themselves, what is the relation with Yoga in this movie. Well frankly, I think it was just meant as a nudge to India since it was a Chinese and Indian Association both with the plot and the production. The only time they mention yoga was a “fetal breath holding technique” when they were escaping from the caves. That was the extent of Yoga that I saw in this movie.
If you are in the mood to escape for a couple of hours, this will do just that. A movie with a little comedy, a little action, some handsome men, and gorgeous women, what else do you need for entertainment. Will this win any Oscars, absolutely not. However, people love Jackie Chan movies not only because of the martial arts, but because of his charisma he has on screen. You will get lots of this in this movie. It was a great attempt to give a tribute to Indiana Jones and it worked in some subtle way. I think Asian critics where too harsh about this movie and did not see it for what it was: entertainment. A movie where someone can escape, and in that sense, the movie achieved its mark.
I give this movie, a 7.5 on 10. A good movie for a Friday night on Netflix or rental.
If you like Jackie Chan movies, you can find some of his other movies here on Amazon.ca.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. Let me know what you think. Until next time, keep on smiling !!!!!