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Chinese Zodiac, not an apt swansong for Chan

Martial arts expert’s last drags, with too many action scenes and laughs aplenty

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Dubai: ‘Chinese Zodiac’, or CZ12 as it’s being called, is Jackie Chan’s 101st film and rumoured to be his last. Written, produced, directed and starring the revelation in the martial arts genre, the movie is long — just over two hours. We wonder if Hollywood’s going the direction of Bollywood — some of the biggest releases recently from ‘The Hobbit’ to ‘Les Miserables’ have clocked over two hours.

However, CZ12 wasn’t a film to kept you so engrossed that you don’t realise the hours whiling away. As Chan and his cohorts search for the 12 Chinese zodiac figurines, we consulted our watches several times wondering when it would end. Not that it was boring — there were plenty of laughs and action scenes — but the movie did drag. It felt like Chan wanted to show the audience just what he was capable of.

The movie opened with the actor roller blading on his stomach along the streets and ended with him sky diving and rolling down a volcano. However, with a career spanning 100 movies and a well-earned fame for his kung-fu prowess, this was rather unnecessary.

The movie highlights an important predicament: should historical artefacts or the spoils of wars long past be returned to their original home country or seek a new abode in victorious countries? Chan tackles this well.

Where do antiquities belong?

Xintong Yao plays Coco, a Chinese student determined to take her country’s lost treasures home, contrasted well with Laura Weissbecker, whose ancestors bought home the loot from defeated countries. Yao’s character is also part of a protest movement backing the notion that antiquities belong with their country of origin.

Chan’s character and the jokes he makes remind us of Bollywood’s Govinda. It was out-there, sometimes crude and ideal after a long day at work when we did not want to exercise those brain cells.

This being Chan’s last, go watch it. A pirate reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s character in ‘Pirates of the Carribbean’, beautiful scenic shots in China, an active volcano and plenty of French language make an appearance.

But a movie in which he bow outs in style? We think not. With movies of the calibre of ‘Shanghai Knights’ and ‘Rush Hour’ under his belt, we expected better from Chan. It didn’t help that much of the dialogue during the press screening was in Chinese and French, with no English subtitles. We have been assured this will not be the case when the movie opens for the public on Thursday.