The title holds much promise of an Indo-Chinese action adventure brimming with fun. But director Stanley Tong takes off with a relic of a story. It really is time Jackie Chan’s directors stopped harking back to old dynasties and hidden secrets as a template. Like kilos of other recent films, Kung Fu Yoga tracks treasures that date back to the days of the Magadha dynasty in India. Looking for it today is Ashmita, an archaeologist who’s also Indian royalty, and Randall, a mercenary, with Chinese archaeologist Jack caught between them.
Jack who’s more professorial than like an archaeologist moves with his team including Ashmita up icy mountains where the action is in the form of throwing snowballs to scare off a pack of wolves. Until Randall turns up and leaves them there for dead.
But everybody’s alive and kicking as the entire cast shifts to the desert terrain of Dubai where there’s an auction for a diamond that holds the key to the treasures of Magadha. It ends up in a long car chase with windows breaking, girls screeching, sirens blaring, a lion roaring and the audience snoring.
You close your eyes anyway when poor terrified camels are raced with whips on their humps.
The action then shifts to India, inexplicably to Rajasthan which is miles away from where Magadha was. And Stanley Tong unbelievably portrays India with princesses dripping jewels, the streets strewn with snake charmers, the Indian rope trick, and levitating swamis. Ashmita also makes a brief reference to Vaastu Shastra as the oldest book on architectural design.
After snow and sand, Tong goes underground for an Indiana Jones kind of treasure hunt.
Why Sonu Sood is called Randall, one doesn’t know. But since he’s rich and shady, he wears velvet and has lions and hyenas in his bungalow. Meanwhile, Ashmita played by Disha Patani shows more teeth than histrionics.
The aging and therefore sluggish Jackie Chan seriously needs more sparkling stories to carry off a show today. There’s one energetic action sequence with hyenas but it doesn’t feature Jackie, it’s younger actors who make all the supple moves. And one action set between Jackie and Sonu gives a whiff of how much fun his movies used to be. This time around, along with the fun, the yoga also goes missing and is present only as a word in the title.
For a film that doesn’t do justice to the land of kung fu or to yoga, Kung Fu Yoga gets a 2 star rating.