There’s not much yoga in director Stanley Tong’s fantasy adventure Kung Fu Yoga, starring the eternally cheerful Jackie Chan. But there’s a lot more going for it. High-flying stunts executed in Dubai, thrilling car chases on the wide highways of the city, acrobatic moves by martial arts legend Chan, gravity defying stunts in snow-filled Iceland caves (dressed up as Tibet in the film) and a sparring of humans vs wild animals in a cage, are all a part of the action and comic offering.
But Chan and Dubai aren’t the sole attractions.
Kung Fu Yoga also stars Bollywood actors Sonu Sood, the relatively unknown Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur, along with the dishy Hong Kong singer-actor Aarif Lee Rahman and veteran Eric Tsang.
Gulf News tabloid! rounds up ten things that you need to know about this comical stunt-filled adventure, out in UAE cinemas now.
1. Kung Fu Yoga is considered the first project to emerge from the India-China co-production treaty, which was signed in September 2014.
It’s part of a three-film agreement signed between India and China during President Xi Jinping’s visit to India two years ago. Initially, studio giants from India and Beijing were involved, but in October 2015 Indian entertainment company Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd called off the movie project claiming they couldn’t agree on terms and conditions.
2. Kung Fu Yoga was shot extensively in Dubai, India and Iceland.
The team, along with Jackie Chan and Sonu Sood, were in Dubai filming at the Atlantis, The Palm, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Shaikh Zayed Road, the DIFC, Dubai Marina, Business Bay area and the desert. It was Chan’s first time filming in the Middle East and the crew was here from September 38 to October 30 in 2015.
“I love to be on a film set. It’s my amusement park. I always have new ideas and realise my dreams when I am there,” Chan was quoted as saying in an interview.
However, Sood played guide to Chan. He had earlier filmed his blockbuster Happy New Year and was familiar with this city.
3. Rumour has it...
Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan and actress Katrina Kaif were supposed to be a part of this project, but they pulled out citing busy schedules.
But Sood says that director Tong took an informed call to cast him in his project as a villain.
“There were many names — many of whom were superstars — who were considered for the role. When I asked the director and the team why they chose me, they said the director saw my profile, my pictures and how fit I was, that he became convinced that I was right for the part. They felt that I looked convincing as a guy who could hit Jackie and still bring about humour and present a larger-than-life image,” said Sood in an interview with Gulf News tabloid! during filming in October in Dubai.
4. Sood described Chan as the pillar of humility:
“He’s a great guy and he’s one of the most humble actors I have come across. And I have worked with actors like Mr [Amitabh] Bachchan, Shah Rukh [Khan], Salman [Khan], and they are all nice. But Jackie Chan is that guy who would pick up glasses and bottles lying on the road or that guy who would help in picking up tents once the filming production is over. He doesn’t act like a star.” He even cooked meals for them.
5. The car chases...
The chases, filmed in Dubai are one of the highlights of this adventure comedy. Around 60 cars such as a Lamborghini, Bugatti, Maserati and Infiniti were filmed chasing each other at high speed. A Hummer ramming into cars will be a sight to behold.
6. ...and the choreography
Bollywood choreographer Farah Khan taught Chan to dance in the Bollywood style. They filmed in Jodhpur and Beijing and a lavish set was created in both countries with Chan in a maroon sherwani and dozens of background dancers in saris.
“He is 60-year-old but behaved like a newcomer on the sets. He was there at 6.30am. We are not used to people reporting on time,” said Khan about her experience of working with Chan in an interview with an Indian news channel, NDTV.
Meanwhile, Tong had a simple brief for Khan: “Give me a huge, happy Bollywood number... Just make them dance.” And she delivered and how.
7. Chan the tourist
During his Dubai visit, Chan made time to learn more about this region’s popular sport — camel racing — and was also spotted wearing a kandora, the traditional Arabic attire.
8. Not his first...
Kung Fu Yoga is not Chan’s first tryst with India. He acted with Mallika Sherawat in the film The Myth and filmed in India, too.
9. A decade's wait
Director Stanley Tong, of Rumble In The Bronx and Super Cop fame, ends his ten-year break with this archeological adventure. His last film was Mr Maggo in 1997.
10. Chan in India
Chan is on a whirlwind promotion tour in India to promote Kung Fu Yoga. He was given a traditional Maharashtrian welcome in Mumbai and actress Shilpa Shetty hosted one of the events, claiming that she loved his action films because there was no blood or gore, despite heavy stunts. With a namaste, Chan won India over.
“I don’t do yoga but I practice martial arts as I expect it to be a faster version of yoga. Since yoga is trending so we have Kung Fu Yoga,” Chan was quoted as saying during his India visit.
Don’t miss it!
Kung Fu Yoga releases in the UAE on February 2.