An emotionally invested enthusiast of pop culture in the guise of a Copywriter. Apathetic by design. Aesthetically offensive and eloquently candid. A sentimental heathen.

So, I’ll be perfectly candid. Zhang Yixing was my sole main reason to watch Kung Fu Yoga. Not Jackie Chan, not his track record for funny yet admirable action flicks, nor is it the prospect of seeing a movie that seems to be geared specifically for two giant movie markets in Asia. Nope. Those are just bonuses. I watched this because Zhang Yixing – popularly known as Lay, the sole remaining Chinese member on K-Pop boyband EXO and former groupmate of Kris Wu is very cute and adorable and handsome in a boy next door manner. I wouldn’t be surprised to find him sitting next to me in a comic book launching event at a nearby mall. Or sharing a commuter line with him. Or-okay I’m spazzing. Point is, I’m watching this for him. The movie being so silly it’s fun was just a bonus.

(PS: Do check out Zhang Yixing’s solo song. It’s titled Lose Control and What U Need? and yes they’re in Chinese, but they’re seriously good. He composed them himself and his voice is so nice and he choreograph the dances too so I promise you won’t be disappointed. Cross my heart.)

As one of the top archaeologists in China, Jack (Jackie Chan) is very interested in the history of China’s relationship with India So when Ashmita (Disha Patani) and her assistant Kyra (Amyra Dastur) approached him with a clue to the lost treasure of Magadha, he quickly embark on the journey with his assistants Xiaoguang (Zhang Yixing) and Noumin (Miya Muqi), and his nephew Jones Lee (Aarif Rahman). But their adventure will not be that easy, because Randall (Sonu Sood) wants the same thing.

Given the premise and the trailer, I’ve expected this movie to be nothing more than a silly entertainment. And it was. Even if it tries so hard to make sense through a majestic tale that, to be frank, felt too far fetched to be true. The Magadha Kingdom does existed yes I searched it up because I hd far too many free time in my hands, but so far I haven’t found any indication of the China-India tale. Ah well, at least they can say it’s loosely based on history. And none of us actually went to the movie for the story. It was just an excuse for the silliness. So the lack of narrative power, the easy way in which every problems seems to be solved, the loose ends and the lack of repercussions should all be forgiven. At least it didn’t stick out so much that it became a gadfly. The stiff and knotty dialogue did made me cringe, along with how awkward almost everyone sounds. I swear, most of them sounds like they’re reading straight from the script. But hey, the frivolousness did make up for it.

Seriously though, Kung Fu Yoga was so barmy and extra. So extra it started things out through an epic battle of Jackie Chan single-handedly fighting elephant troops in the middle of snowstorm. It reminded me of LOTR Return of the King’s Battle of Gondor, but with… okay-it’s-passable-let’s-leave-it-at-that visual effect. Though not long after that, I’ve given up on trying to differentiate whether it’s real or just a CGI and/or green screen. Because it hurts my head too much. So I decided to just laugh about it. Which was my general approach to the movie. Toneless dialogue? Laugh at it. Frivolous gimmick? Laugh at it. Weird visual effect? Laugh at it. Gimmick so extra it didn’t make sense? Laugh at it. Action choreograph that are both so good and so ridiculous? Damn right I’m going to laugh at those. After all, those are where the movie excels. The action scenes, I mean, not all the other aspects.

Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan brought series of action scenes that are both impressive and comedic. And he blended them together so well I didn’t felt like it was out of tone. I mean, those scenes were both funny and thrilling. Which is a very hard thing to achieve. Even the weirdest shit, like Jackie Chan sharing a car with a lion during that car chase sequence, somehow still made sense and got me laughing in total disbelief. Though my favorite scene still is the hyena one. Yes I’m probably biased because Zhang Yixing is involved, but it really was hilarious. And still got me on the edge of my seat. Because if there’s anything to praise from Kung Fu Yoga, it is the movie’s comedic timing. And Zhang Yixing, who was surprisingly decent as the adorable Xiaoguang. Hey, at least he got considerable screen time and contributed quite a lot, even if he’s entirely absent from the final battle most likely because of scheduling conflict, but I need to do further research.

Though it’s bordering on cultural appropriation, Kung Fu Yoga still works as a silly and mindless entertainment. It’s amusing on its own, but would be even better when one just give up on all common sense and take everything as a joke. Guffawing and hollering at the screen out of disbelief also helps. Plus, those dames looks so fine kicking those asses, Aarif Rahman is occasionally charming, and Zhang Yixing is such a pleasure to watch and adore.

 

Director: Stanley Tong. Writer: Stanley Tong. Released on: 28 January 2017. Casts: Jackie Chan, Aarif Rahman, Zhang Yixing / Lay, Sonu Sood, Miya Muqi, Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur.

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