Monday, February 4, 2013

Chinese Zodiac

February 4, 2013




I have not watched a solo Jackie Chan movie for a long while. In "Forbidden Kingdom," he shared the star billing with Jet Li. In "Karate Kid", he even played a supporting role for Jaden Smith! Now comes word that this film "Chinese Zodiac" (or "CZ12" for short) will already be the last action film of this iconic martial arts star. If that statement alone will not convince his fans to catch it, then I do not know what will.

I think a lot of people shared that idea. Today is the first weekend that it is showing in local theaters. We watched this in a movie theater in Chinatown, and that 3 pm showing was totally SOLD OUT. It had been quite some time that I have been in a completely full theater in a showing that is not a premiere. It is truly impressive that the audience was composed of fans of all ages.

"Chinese Zodiac" recounts the exploits of a mercenary of historic relics, JC (Jackie Chan), who is searching for the twelve bronze heads of Chinese Zodiac animals which had been looted from the Summer Palace, in order to put them up for sale in big international auctions. JC leads a team of three who works with him "Mission Impossible" style. 

He shares this adventure as well with two plucky ladies: a French heiress Katherine (who would like to him to find her great-grandfather ship which was lost at sea), and a Chinese activist Coco (who is part of a crusade to have Western powers to return cultural treasures back to the countries from whom these were stolen during colonial times). 

As with all Jackie Chan movies in the past, the main reason people go to watch it is not really the story, but Jackie's unique brand of comedy- action. This film certainly does not disappoint. It is two hours worth of exciting stunts which only Jackie can deliver. The movie opened with a long sequence wherein he was sailing down a mountain road using a body suit with roller blades all over it. The last scenes involved skydiving in order to recover the last animal head before it plummets into a volcano! There were still so many action scenes in between -- involving dogs in a maze, pirates on an island, a rival mercenary on a sofa, henchmen with photography equipment -- all as exhilarating as they were also funny.

Yes, Jackie Chan's age may be showing (he is 58 now), but he definitely still has IT! The outtakes shown over the end credits show that he was still the one doing all those dangerous stunts and demanding physical comedy routines himself. Though he was uncharacteristically playing a rogue character in this film, like all of his past movies, there are still lessons to be learned at the end, both personally as well as patriotically. Cheesy dialogues and corny acting, yes, but above all it is still excellent entertainment for all ages, as can be evidenced by the enthusiastic audience response. Come on in and enjoy Jackie Chan's final action show!


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