11:00 - 2nd June 2014, by Calum Waddell

Chinese Zodiac

Jackie Chan directs and stars in this multi-lingual (English! Cantonese! Mandarin!) adventure blockbuster which was a huge hit - but a critical disaster - in its native Hong Kong, and across China, back in December 2012. That it has taken 18 months for the resulting vanity project (Chinese Zodiac has given Chan a Guinness Book of Records entry for the most single credits on one movie) to reach the west likely has something to do with the fact it is actually not very good.

The film is a sequel to Armour of God (1987) and Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991) which were themselves inspired by Indiana Jones - only with Chan's added touch of bone-breaking stunts and slapstick humour. Alas, after a rollicking opening sequence, which sees Chan torpedo in and out of a mansion in a high-octane theft, Chinese Zodiac quickly gets bogged down in an insane amount of exposition. This includes its leading actor's increasingly odd and controversial politics (in short - he has become a one-man apologist for China's ridiculously regressive human rights record) and a juvenile, overlong jaunt through some jungle. The plot has Chan trying to recover 12 animal heads, representing the Chinese Zodiac, which were looted from China during the second Opium War (cue: long and laborious speech about the British theft of Hong Kong). Nods are given to the previous Armour of the God movies - including Chan's famous way of launching chewing gum pellets into his mouth - but even this injection of VHS-era nostalgia is not enough to make up for his majesty's latest mystifying mess.

Unless you really need to hear Jackie Chan sing the soundtrack from hell, Chinese Zodiac need not be a part of your future...
SCORE: 2/5
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