Film Review: Kung Fu Yoga
Not even Jackie Chan can save this ill-advised mash-up
I’d find it easier to convey how this film made me feel if instead of words I could use a set of emojis related to groaning, squirming and despairing. Kung Fu Yoga, starring Jackie Chan, is an Indo-Chinese co-production with a few crazy action scenes and two passing references to yoga. The Chinese dialogue is dubbed into English, which doesn’t make it any easier to understand.
The opening sequence relates the story of an ancient battle between a Tang Dynasty envoy to India, Wang Xuance (Chan), and the elephant army of the Indian Arunasva (Sonu Sood). The scene then shifts to present-day China, where Jack (Chan) is an archeologist, an authority on the Magadha dynasty, and proficient in kung fu.
When Indian professor Ashmita (Disha Patani) shows up in China with the remnants of a map, Jack gets entangled in an elaborate plot to track down Magadha’s missing treasure, travelling from China to Dubai and Rajasthan. Also in search of the diamond is Randall (Sood), a treasure hunter named Jones (Aarif Rahman), and the descendants of the Magadha royal family.
If Dubai is the perfect setting for director Stanley Tong to fashion a car chase with Bentleys, Porsches and a lion, India is equally apt for the Indiana Jones-inspired sequences involving dangling off vines and being attacked by vipers.
The stream of India clichés culminates with a Bollywood-style song-and-dance number; watching Chan enthusiastically perform the dance moves is the best part of the film.
Kung Fu Yoga could have been a fun mash-up of Chinese martial arts and Indian acrobatics. But for that it would have needed a script, which seems to have been misplaced, and some decent performances. Chan shows some sparkle with his swift movements and appealing shyness in the presence of Patani, who delivers lines like she’s reading a speech.
Sood seems to be enjoying himself, riding a horse with a falcon on his wrist, wearing opulent outfits and saying things like: “Some call it destiny, some call it meant to be, I call it, I make it happen". But who made this drivel happens