Kung Fu Yoga Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jackie Chan, Aarif Rahman, Lay Zhang
  • Director: Stanley Tong
  • Format: Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: August 8, 2017
  • Run Time: 108 minutes

        The appeal of Jackie Chan films used to be his lack of special effects to accomplish the stunts, many of which resulted in actual injury. His days of death-defying stunts are likely long gone, and it is not uncommon for his films to now feature CGI enhancements, but none quite so much as Kung Fu Yoga. The reason for this is not necessarily because of Chan’s age, however, but the decision to make it a co-production between China and India. Bollywood is known for the kind of ridiculous action that uses so many wires and CGI that it never comes close to resembling reality, which is the polar opposite style to Chan’s classic films, many of which were ironically helmed by Kung Fu Yoga director Stanley Tong (Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop).

        Fortunately, Chan is also known for his ability to blend humor with action, and that is where Kung Fu Yoga resembles his former films. While the Indian co-stars still make use of the absurd over-the-top style they are accustomed to, Chan makes his action a bit smaller and intimate as an aging archaeology professor named Jack, keeping in his own tradition of playing a character with a name very similar to his own. When Jack is approached by an Indian professor named Ashmita (Disha Patani) to help her locate the lost Magadha treasure, they set out on an Indiana Jones type adventure, heightened by the fact that rebel army leader Randall (Sonu Sood) is out for the same treasure with less honorable intentions. Thankfully this is a Bollywood film, where bad guys can be taken down with a unifying final dance number rather than death.

        The smaller character scenes with Chan are filled with his typical humor and physical abilities, albeit on a smaller scale than his early films, and this is where Kung Fu Yoga thrives. Unfortunately, a majority of the film seems preoccupied with larger action pieces and numerous grand locations to feature them. With everything from a car chase on city streets to explorations in Tibetan ice caves and the mountains of India, Kung Fu Yoga throws plenty of spectacles at the audience. Unfortunately, many of them are completely nonsensical and are nearly as cartoonish as the animation sequence which opens the film.
        Among the most confusing elements of the film are the marketing choices used to try and get audiences to watch it in the first place. To begin with, the title only seems to relate to the fact that Ashmita is an advocate of Yoga, while Jack practices Kung Fu. That is literally it. Other than Ashmita makes absurd claims about the things that yoga can do for humans, essentially making them superhuman, the title has nearly nothing to do with the plot. And the cover art for the film’s Blu-ray features on of the film’s most nonsensical sequences featuring a CGI lion. It is not only out of place on the cover, the sequence has no place in the film because it has no logical explanation. In a car chase scene, Jack steals a sports car from a valet, only to discover that there is a full-grown lion in the backseat. Why is there a lion in the car? Who drives around with a lion in the back of their sports car, without any cage or leash? None of these questions matter at all to the film, which is only concerned with the humor of having Jackie Chan driving in a car with a big cat.

        Silly as this film is, it isn’t entirely unwatchable. Those who follow Jackie Chan know better than to expect is best anymore, but Kung Fu Yoga isn’t even close to being one of his best in recent years. That being said, it is an interesting film experiment to see the cinematic styles of two nations blended into one film. It doesn’t work all that well, but it is an interesting failure with a set of mistakes that are unique, if nothing else.

        The Blu-ray release also comes with a DVD copy of the film, although high definition may be the best way to watch the CGI-fest. Then again, when some of the effects aren’t entirely up-to-par, the standard quality of the DVD may offer some relief. The film also has no shortage of special features, especially focusing on the unique elements of the co-production. There are several featurettes which discuss the combining of two styles, as well as a featurette on the Bollywood dance sequence. Also included are bloopers, which are not played during the credits as is usually done in a Chan film, and a featurette about the martial arts movie star. Lastly, there is a promotional making-of featurette.   

Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10
Historical Significance:  5/10
Special Features: 7/10

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