Far East Film Festival 20

Udine Italy April 20th/ April 28th 2018
The Film Festival For Popular Asian Cinema
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
Sunday, April 23, time 3.10 PM


By date


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Kung Fu Yoga

Family-friendly popcorn cinema is the order of the day in Kung Fu Yoga, the latest action collaboration from Jackie Chan and writer-director Stanley Tong – a team whose past hits include Police Story 3: Super Cop and Rumble in the Bronx. Chan stars as leading Chinese archaeologist Jack, who’s called on to help in a border-crossing case involving important ancient artefacts. He’s visited one day by Dr Ashmita (Disha Patani) from Rajasthan, who has a map with directions to find the Magadha treasure – a great stash of precious goodies related to animated war scenes that open the film. Jack agrees to get involved and, with aid from young explorer Jones (Aarif Lee), he heads to Tibet with Dr Ashmita and various assistants.

The 1,300-year-old treasure trove is found soon enough in an ice cavern, but also turning up are a horde of bad guys led by Randall (Sonu Sood), a wealthy man claiming a family link to the Magadha jewels and gold. After a grand battle in the cave, Jack and Dr Ashmita wind up empty-handed. But when one of the items, a 212-carat purple diamond, later goes up for auction in Dubai, they hop on a trail that takes them to the Middle East and India in a bid to retrieve the treasure.
A sequel of sorts to Tong and Chan’s previous film The Myth, which also had Chan play archaeologist Jack and head to India, Kung Fu Yoga goes headlong into unashamedly silly adventure. The route can be dotted with regional clichés (like an Indian snake charmer) and obvious cinema references (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Bollywood), and the scriptwriting is far from subtle and refined. But Kung Fu Yoga compensates handily with frantic action scenes, nimble comedy and a gleeful, anything-goes spirit.
The first big fight plays out in classic Tong-Chan style in a large purpose-built set furnished with useful props. A later car chase in Dubai is a chance for the filmmakers to go nuts with supercars, crashes and even a backseat lion for a delightfully absurd thrill ride. And a scene in Randall’s Indian manor takes an entertaining twist when a yard full of hyenas hosts another flurry of action. Oddly enough, yoga is in short supply – the practice comes up in brief moves early on and as an excuse to deploy the outrageous “fetal breath-holding technique” in a great escape. Closing everything is a colourful take on a Bollywood musical number: a boisterous finale in keeping with Kung Fu Yoga’s breezy, feel-good vibe.

Now in his 60s, Jackie Chan shows he’s still up for big action in Kung Fu Yoga, though others like Aarif Lee take a fair chunk of heavy lifting in fight scenes too. The superstar’s amiable comic persona remains on full display throughout, and he ably boosts the film’s appeal as a crazy crowd pleaser. That effort paid off earlier this year when Kung Fu Yoga triumphed at the mainland Chinese box office: even with more technically accomplished work as competition, Tong and Chan’s new burst of escapist fun seized the No. 1 spot for the busy Chinese New Year cinema season.

Tim Youngs
Film director: 
Stanley Tong
Running time: 




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