Review: Jackie Chan’s ‘Chinese Zodiac’ an action-packed mess

The frantic action-comedy “Chinese Zodiac” may please non-discriminating fans of its co-writer/director/star (and more) Jackie Chan, but will likely leave most other viewers dazed, confused and eagerly watching the clock.

The fact that this awkwardly dubbed, stateside version reportedly runs about 15 minutes shorter than the cut released in China may in part account for the movie’s convoluted plotting. On the upside, there’s now less of this cartoonish mishmash to wade through.

Blasting, brawling and close-calling his way through the mayhem is Chan, cheesing it up as a bounty hunter known only as J.C. (which one, er, prays stands for “Jackie Chan”) who’s hired by a sketchy antiques mogul (Oliver Platt) to track down six priceless bronze animal heads inspired by Chinese zodiac symbols. J.C. trots the globe in search of these missing national treasures aided — or not — by a clutch of tech-savvy assistants, a prickly young archaeologist, a bankrupt French duchess and others. Counterfeiting, cloning, repatriation, sky diving, pirates, attack dogs, a volcano and lots of fanciful gadgets and gizmos all somehow factor in.


Character development is nil, the dialogue is simplistic (“Men just don’t understand women!”), and unfunny bits of slapstick and lame sight gags abound. The action, however, is largely wall-to-wall (the movie’s first hour plays like an endless succession of trailer moments), though the often unconvincing editing limits the thrill quotient.


“Chinese Zodiac”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for martial arts action, some violent content and brief nudity

Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. In Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian, Spanish, French and English with English subtitles

Playing: In general release.