Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Movie Review: Kungfu Yoga – Bollywoodization of Chinese Cinema and Stereotyping India


Movie – Kung fu Yoga
Written and directed by Stanley Tong
Star Cast - Jackie Chan, Aarif Rahman, Yixing Zhang, Sonu Sood, Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur, Mia Muqi
'Kung Fu Yoga' is a Sino-Indian project that is a part of the three-film agreement signed between the two countries during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to India.  
Premiere show at Novo Cinemas, Ibn Batuta Mall, Dubai on 30th Jan 2017
I am conflicted about my review of the movie. It’s mixed. It was an entertainer for sure but there are just about too many things about the movie that pinched me.
There was an attempt to make the movie into a roller coaster ride … a not so successful attempt.
There are too many things wrong about the movie so let me first talk about a few of the good points before I start my rant about a missed opportunity and waste of talent.
The movie, like most Jackie Chan movies, was an action comedy entertainer. There was plenty of action and there was plenty of comedy. Problem was that unlike the old Jackie Chan movie, both were not married together well. They seems to be forced together. They seemed to be literally put together by force without any proper attempt to homogenize them. Jackie Chan has served comedy in his action for ages and we all have grown with that kind of action-comedy. This movie clearly missed that one key ingredient.
The name itself missed the mark. There is action but hardly any kung fu. And where was the Yoga? Did I doze off in the movie and missed it. Baring a scene where the girl tries to teach Chan some Yoga to hold his breath (which he ignores); I don’t remember any mention of yoga – leave alone ‘see’ kung fu yoga.
And then there was the 20th century (last century / past century) showcasing of the Indian stereotype – showing India as the land of Elephants, Snake Charmers, the Great Indian Rope Trick and dressed-up Royalty. Significant time and an entire action-chase sequence was filled with these ancient stereotypes. They were designed to get laughs out of the audience but I am guessing the urban Indian audience and the NRI audience was either fuming or yawning from boredom. #Fail
The actors did justice to their characters and roles but the Director did not. He was not able to hold the story together; nor was he able to hold the attention of the viewer. The dialogues and their delivery was not sharp and the timing was all messed up. The Chinese star cast was forgettable and so was the Indian one. The female lead, Disha Patani, was gorgeous but that was it. And unfortunately, in the movie, we saw not the best of Chan either.
I am fan of Chan and will see anything he stars in. It is a delight to watch him smile and make funny faces on screen while he jumps around and does his kungfu. He is old – yes. We cant expect the same kind of stunts he used to do earlier, but it was not just the stunts that won our hearts. It was the unique brand of action comedy that was brought to the silver screen by Jackie Chan. We miss that now.   
Too many different animals in the movie – from the lion in the car chase to the hyena bunch guarding the captives in the villain’s mansion and a bunch of wolves in the snow clad mountains and some other animals too – without really creating many memorable moments. The lion in the car is something I might remember (but not for long) but the wolves and hyenas scenes are entirely forgettable.
Last but not the least, every Chan movie I have seen ended with stunt bloopers along with end credits roll.  THAT was fun. I always looked forward to it. I wouldn’t miss it. It was not only funny but inspiring – showing us the real Jackie Chan. AND in Kung fu yoga, someone decided to botch it up with a Bollywood style song and dance sequence … and that too utterly meaningless and stupid. But even there, Jackie takes all our attention besides Disha – Sonu Sood could not get his moves right, nor his expressions. Jackie was a delight to watch even in the dance.
That’s bollywoodization of the Chinese movie industry for you – Bollywood actors, Bollywood style fight sequences, absolutely stupid stereotyping and Bollywood style stupid song and dance sequence.

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