A Chinese archaeologist Professor Jack (Jackie Chan) teams up with a beautiful Indian Professor Ashmita (Disha Patani) and her assistant Kyra (Amyra Dastur) to find a lost Magadha treasure. From the freezing Tibetan ice caves, to the scorching beaches of Dubai, they find themselves travelling around the world to locate all the pieces required to unlock the secrets of the treasure. Unfortunately, they are not alone in their search as the descendant of a rebel leader Randall (Sonu Sood) also seeks the treasure and will do anything he can to make sure he gets it.
Kung Fu Yoga is a cultural collaboration between China and India, with both the cast and cultural philosophies incorporated into the film. This is not unusual for Chan who has featured Kung Fu and Buddhist philosophies in his past films. In Kung Fu Yoga he even manages to incorporate this into his fighting, talking through his movements in a similar style to the original Drunken Master (1978).
Teaming up again with Rumble in the Bronx (1995) director Stanley Tong was a good move. He really knows how to utilise Chan’s strengths on the screen, both his fighting ability and comical timing. Something which has been lost in some of the more special effects driven Hollywood movies.
The fighting in Kung Fu Yoga is shared, with the action split between Jackie and his Indian counterpart Ashmita and the younger cast members which includes Jones (Aarif Rahman) and Kyra. The supporting cast do well in their fight scenes, but they are more of a supporting role, as it’s the fight scenes with Chan that really stand out, especially in the final showdown against Randall.
Apart from a CGI heavy opening sequence, which they use to create a young Jackie Chan and some huge battle sequences, the visual effects in Kung Fu Yoga thankfully don’t overshadow his talents and are mainly used for the more vicious animals used. There may have been a time when Chan would have driven a car with a lion on the back seat, or have the cast battle a pack of hyenas. However, for the protection of the animals and the actors involved, CGI looks to be a safer option.
The film takes huge inspiration from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), which becomes ever more apparent in the last 30 minutes, where I was expecting a soundbite from the John Williams original score. We don’t get the music, but they are more than happy to acknowledge the inspiration, as Jack makes a comment confirming that he was always a fan of the Indiana Jones films.
It may not be perfect, but for fans of Jackie Chan, this is a return to form compared to some of his recent hit and miss efforts. The action may not have the heart stopping stunts we are used to from his early films, but for pure entertainment, Kung Fu Yoga proves that Jackie Chan is still an action hero worth watching.
Kung Fu Yoga is out on Digital 31st July, and on Blu-Ray and DVD 7th August.