Chinese Zodiac is the 3rd movie by Jackie Chan continuing the Armor or God / Operation Condor film franchise. It was released in 2012 and is supposedly the last film in which Jackie Chan will be performing life threatening stunts for an action film.
Jackie Chan plays JC (wonder it that’s short for? ), a sort of Chinese Indiana Jones style character who steals artifacts and is involved with selling duplicates marketed as the real deal.
JC is after 12 Chinese artificates based on animals from the Chinese Zodiac. By sneaking in to buildings or posing as someone he isn’t JC and his team start to recover the artifacts, with many of those they’re lying to joining in to help.
When he promises to help a woman find her great grandfather’s sunken ship, (as a way of retrieving millions in gold and more of the Zodiac Animal artifacts), they are tailed by some people JC has stolen from, along with some pirates who want to take their valuables for themselves.
Naturally using some awesome physical stunts we follow JC and his team on their adventure to outrun the people after them whilst gathering all of the artifacts they’re after.
A fun adventure!
This is a movie that anyone can appreciate for the level of fun and adventure it brings to the screen. Although I originally like Jackie Chan for his Martial Arts fights / movies, he’s truly managed to spread his physical performance across a wider range of action.
The movie starts off with Jackie escaping a small army of ‘bad guys’ wearing a suit covered in wheels, wearing roller blades (hard to imagine I know – see above) while he goes flying down a road and escaping his enemies. His escape out of a mansion with several artifacts also shows off a little of Jackie’s top physical talent. From there he has a few fights, and narrow escapes and even a fight during a skydiving sequence.
It seems Jackie is taking is performance absolutely everywhere, and in one aspect is good to see him varying his methods. However, I think we’re missing out on some of his strengths also.
The film itself is light-hearted and seems to target family friendly audiences – but in a slightly patronizing way. The dialogue is pretty cringe-worthy at times and is only saved by some high quality action / stunt work.
Chinese Zodiac is a mixture of some really good and really poorly presented scenes which makes it a bit of a ‘mixed bag’ of vary quality when trying to determine if you like it or not.
The Martial Arts
There isn’t a hell of a lot of fighting in this film. As I mentioned earlier, Jackie’s approach is more ‘generalized’ action and not just fighting – but his high end brand of stunt work really makes it something.
The fights are saved for the end of the movie, and as usual they’re filled with the fast pace and precise choreography Jackie Chan strives for. Always trying to make things unique, one fight involves Jackie fighting a man on a couch in which they’re both doing their best not to ‘get off’ the couch – keeping at least one hand or foot on the couch until the end of the fight.
Ultimately you can see a high level of skill in the fights and the action overall. Jackie Chan is no slouch, he’s always putting every ounce of energy into his performances and it shows it certain parts of this film.
A mixture of bad acting, decent action and a few reasonably nice fight scenes makes Chinese Zodiac a bit of a lost film overall. But being the person I am I tend to look past the bad and find the good, so I enjoyed it. If you’re a critic at heart and you can’t see past those niggily little things that annoy you, you’ll probably not enjoy this movie.
If you’re willing to accept it’s shortcomings and watch for the action / stunt work – you’ll get something out of this. It’s a very ‘in the middle‘ film for our man Jackie Chan.