Chinese Zodiac (or CZ12) is the latest and weakest outing for Jackie Chans gum chewing Asian Hawk (or Asian Condor). For the uninitiated, Jackie plays a kung fu Indiana Jones who doesn’t share Indies view that ‘It belongs in a museum’ but rather in someone’s private collection- for a substantial finders fee of course!
The story starts with the looting of the old Chinese Summer Palace, where 12 bronze heads depicting the animals of the Chinese zodiac were stolen by the British and French in the late 1800s. Jackie and his team are hired to get them back. The story has some twists that can appear to be pointless distractions from the main plot.
The fight scenes when they do appear are great, the exception being a jungle melee with some pirates-don’t ask. One scene that stood out was when Jackie Chan faces off against main competitor, Marc (Marc Canonizado – His Dr Rene Belloq)
The film boasts three beautiful women (played by Laura Weissbecker, Helen Yao and Zhang Lanxin) who each add to a bit of the story, but didn’t have the same fantastic chemistry to pull off the bungling international trio in Armour of God 2. This time around it felt forced. They were all good individually, especially Bonnie (Zhang Lanxin). Her first scene shows her doing the splits to steal keys out of a security cabin. That made me raise an eyebrow – ‘The Rock’ style. She used to be part of the China national Taekwondo team and so can more than keep up with the action.
Overall, the acting was good, but the dubbing doesn’t help. I found myself changing the audio to Chinese with English subtitles. It felt a bit more natural.
The problem here is that Armour of God 1 and 2 were gold. The formula of action, adventure and mix bag of beautiful women worked well. Chinese Zodiac had a lot to live up to and this watered down ‘12’ rated version is not up to their standard. There are also some lecturing undertones within the film that wrangle a little. On the plus side, there are the usual great over the top stunts, crazy gadgets and fantastic fight scenes, but watch out for the B grade CGI effects and wirework.