Film review: 'Chinese Zodiac is so bad it's awesome

Friday, 4 January 2013 - 4:46pm IST Updated: Saturday, 5 January 2013 - 2:19am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Fans of the yesteryear Jackie Chan should steer clear, lovers of so-bad-it’s-good films might want to take a look at this one, though.

Film: Chinese Zodiac
Cast: Jackie Chan, Yao Xingtong, Oliver Platt, Laura Weissbecker
Director: Jackie Chan
Rating: **

Jackie Chan after Drunken Master and Armour of God (to which this film is a sequel), is back in his 101st, and what might be his last major action film.

Playing the unscrupulous collector of artifacts JC, Chan must recover 12 priceless bronze zodiac animal heads from China’s Summer Palace, which in the opening scene of the film, was depicted as being ruthlessly looted by colonialists.

Freelancing for the slimy businessman/counterfeiting ring operator (Platt), JC lands in France, where he meets Coco (Yao) working to repatriating ancient artifacts and the naive descendents of one of the Palace’s plunderers (Weissbecker)….and the adventure begins!

In 2000, the action star from voiced a cartoon version of himself in Jackie Chan Adventures, where he played a collector of ancient artifacts. While a single episode of that series may have been more tightly written than this film, CZ12 is hilarious. From an outfit fitted with rollerblades, to heritage-obsessed hipsters to a black Mandarin-speaking pirate, you can expect the unexpected with this film. 

The subtitleless film’s inexplicable multilingual nature, which is also a (poor) running joke throughout the film, adds to the incomprehensibility of the overall plot. Coco’s endless pontifications about patriotism and her catfight with Weissbecker’s character don’t help.

Neither does JC’s hilarious final act of redemption. With Chan setting 2 Guinness records (for most screen credits and most stunts performed by an actor) with this film, it’s safe to say that his direction and scriptwriting isn’t going to win any acclaim. 

At 58, Chan still bravely takes on punishing stunts with a smile. His trademark slapstick-infused kitchen-sink style Kung Fu thrills and brings a smile to the face. But the absurd writing messes up his chance to deliver a memorable farewell kiss to the genre that boosted him in to superstardom. 

While fans of the yesteryear Jackie Chan should steer clear, lovers of so-bad-it’s-good films might want to take a look at this one, though. A colleague (who doesn’t care too much for Bollywood) dubbed this badly made film, Chinese Dabbang while I must confess that I was enthusiastically lapping up most of the silliness myself.

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