Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie Review: Chinese Zodiac

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Fun, creative, and breathtaking fight/action sequences
Cons: Everything else
The Bottom Line:
Action worth watching
Not supported by rest of
Very bad movie

A Mess of a Movie - See it for the Fight Scenes Only

Back in the day, I saw several of Jackie Chan's movies and enjoyed them, however, I'd hesitate to call myself a big fan of his work.  Still, I remembered the fantastic fight sequences, so when my roommate brought home Chinese Zodiac and asked if I wanted to watch it, too, I agreed.  Sadly, it should have been much, much better.

JC (Jackie Chan) has been hired to track down the twelve bronze statues of the animals from the Chinese Zodiac any way necessary.  That's a good thing since he is a thief for hire.  These particular statues were stolen from the Chinese one hundred and fifty years ago.  A few are popping up in the market, but no one knows where all of them are.  Can JC and his team follow clues to track them down?

Now often, I will say that the plot is just an excuse for the action.  That doesn't necessarily mean the plot is bad, it just means the plot is just setting up the action.  In this case, it means the plot is bad.  It jumps from plot point to plot point with no real explanation or at times logic.  A few of the complications felt like the writers saying, "We need to have another fight sequences, so let's introduce pirates."  Yes, you read that right, real day pirates make an appearance.  The climax, while thrilling, also made little sense and came out of nowhere just to give us an awesome final fight scene.

Character development?  Again, much of that is forced.  Things are thrown in at random that are supposed to help us identify with the characters better.  This was still happening in the final, wrap up scene of the film.  Instead of liking the characters, it made me laugh at the clumsy way it was handled.

I'm willing to give the actors a pass on the acting.  The film was a mix of sub-titles, accented English, and voice over.  Between the three, I was so busy trying to follow the story that the acting wasn't a big issue for me.  It wasn't good, but it was horrible, either.

What was horrible was much of the voice over work.  Many of the actors delivered it with such flat voices that I was pushed away by the woodenness of it.  I felt like these "actors" just wanted a paycheck and didn't care about the final outcome.

Along with this, we get preached at about who should really have stolen artifacts taken from the original peoples are displayed in European cities.  I actually agree with what the film was trying to say, I just hated the way it was said.

So why watch the film?  For the action sequences.  The opening epic scene is worth it for the sheer fun of the film alone.  There are many other great scenes scattered throughout the film, including a fight entirely on a couch.  No, I'm not joking.  And the climatic moments just be seen to be believed.

Even so, I highly suggest renting the film, or better yet borrowing it from someone else who has rented it like I did.  There is no reason to watch this film more than once.  After you've seen the action scenes, you'll have no desire to watch Chinese Zodiac again.

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