Action Movie Fanatix Review: Chinese Zodiac

Action Movie Fanatix review banner for Chinese Zodiac

Twelve Heads.
Five Continents.
One Man.

Starring: Jackie Chan, Sang-woo Kwon, Fan Liao, Oliver Platt

Director: Jackie Chan

2012  |  109 Minutes  |  PG-13

“I can kick your ass without leaving this couch.” – Vulture
“Show me.” – Asian Hawk

Asian Hawk (Jackie Chan) leads a team to recover the 12 bronze heads of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which were looted from the Old Summer Palace in China in the late 1800s.

The movie opens in classic Jackie Chan fashion, straight to the crazy action, combining laughs with breath taking stunts.  Long term fans of his will also appreciate that Chinese Zodiac is a continuation of the Operation Condor / Armour of God series of films… not that it matters though.  Aside from him playing the same character, there’s zero connection to those movies.

I find it hard to hate on any movie with Jackie Chan in it.  Even the bad ones manage to have his personality shining through.  Seeing Asian Hawk jet setting around the world as Jackie Chan’s version of James Bond.

As with any Jackie Chan movie the action is the star of the show.  Surprisingly, Chinese Zodiac is light on martial arts.  Not so surprising is that it is still heavy on crazy stunts.  Some are classic Jackie Chan putting his life on the line and some are a bit over Hollywood-itized, trading skills and guts for CGI.  Personally I’m fine with this as I REALLY don’t ever want to wake up to the news that Jackie Chan lost his life or got paralyzed or something terrible like that… just for the sake of our entertainment.

The story, acting and character development are all essentially non-existent.  Because of this, whenever we aren’t watching Asian Hawk doing something crazy, the movie becomes a bit boring and dull.

The humor also didn’t hit for me.  Jackie can usually ride a fine line, providing a sense of humor that young and old can enjoy together.  Chinese Zodiac is light-hearted and goofy but much of the humor just felt childish.

There’s definitely plenty of impressive stunts that we’ve never seen Jackie perform.  I just wish there was a little more martial arts and a slightly stronger story to hold it all together.  Jackie Chan is always fun so I will never turn down watching him in a movie.  I just know he can do better, even with a lessening willingness to perform life endangering stunts.

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