Region 3 DVD 2D 2 disc version review
Armour of God 3
It's that time when a new Jackie Chan film arrives, years ago we used to get new films from Jackie twice maybe sometimes three times a year, but over the years he has spent more time and money making more extravagant films which take longer to produce. Then take into consideration his Hollywood career which also slowed things down a bit.
Chinese Zodiac aka CZ12 has been a film Jackie has been wanting to make for years, the name was touted about years ago, and the fans have been waiting for what in all intents and purposes is the third in the Armour of God series.
Yes, Jackie is back as the Asian Hawk, referred to in the film as JC. The film was released in the far east last December and went to DVD and Bluray in the east on March 7th. It's still set to have its European and USA releases.
It's also a film made for 3D and Imax, so it's a first for Jackie.
Now the CZ12 is filmed in many countries including France and Latvia and stars quite an international cast which include South Korean actor Kwon Sang-Woo ( Volcano High, Once Upon a High School,71 Into the Fire), American actor Oliver Platt (Lake Placid, Xmen First Class), French Actress Laura Weissebecker and Chinese actresses Zhang Lan -Xin and Yao Xing Tong.
This also makes the film a multilingual film, with English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and French being spoken.
Now the story of the film is based around the second Opium war and the ransacking of Old Summer Palace by the British and French who looted and stole many rare artifacts including twelve bronze heads of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
Skipping to modern-day and the Bronze heads are being auctioned (well some of them) , they sell for over a Million Euros each. When a representative for a big corporation run by Lawrence Morgan (Oliver Platt) contact JC to find and steal the missing bronze heads JC agrees, he is even more agreed to do so when he is told if he can find the pinnacle head, The Dragon, his bonus will be ten times.
Unlike the first two films, JC works within a team whereas before he was a lone adventurer. Now to get the bronze heads he must replicate them so he can do a switch, JC poses as a reporter for the National Geographic named Martin.
As Martin, JC goes to a professor who has recreated 12 replica heads for study purposes, getting a chance whilst left alone with the heads he scans them and this is transmitted to his team who miraculously upon getting the data replicate the desired heads so they can be used for a switch.
It's really here that the film starts to get going and the story gets maybe a little busy. This is very reminiscent of many of the films made in Hong Kong in the '80s and '90s, you know where no story was really done and they just added it as it goes along, It can sometimes make for a confusing scenario or in others drive the story along like a roller coaster.
JC must get in touch with a young woman by the name of CoCo who runs a student body that supports the return of lost and looted relics back to their respected countries.
Posing as the Reporter he finds out where two of the bronze heads are. This sends JC and his team on a mission to a Mansion to retrieve the heads, But when JC is spotted he has to escape from the guards and their dogs.
This is what leads him to land in trouble with the law which in turn gives him to meet Katherine the granddaughter of the captain of one of the ships that launched its assault on Old summer palace all those years ago...Katherine s grandfather took the ''Indestructible '' to invade the far east but never returned, at Katherine's home JC and his team find the proof they need to set voyage for where the Indestructible was last meant to have landed. Hoping to find the gold bullion that was on board.
By now the film is starting to resemble the old films in their style and, though the pace is a little slower at times, but this is due to the films quite long running time of just over two hours. . For a Jackie Chan film that's quite long considering the first Armour of God was about 90 odd minutes and it's sequel around the 100-minute mark.
Whereas the original's pace was fast and furious, especially in the Western versions which were edited. CZ12 does have quite a few scenes which stop the story from moving at the same pace that where used for this type of film.
I don't think there's any less action in CZ12 than in the first films. But when it's all edited a bit tighter it lends itself to be more exciting.
© Emperor Motion Pictures / Jackie and JJ Productions 2012
From the opening scene where JC is escaping from one faction or another ( very much like the openings in the first two films), you can tell your in for a treat, though I was surprised that one of the highlights of the film, Chan kitted out in a 32 wheeled bodysuit was the opening scene. But when the opening credits were revealed I knew I was in for a ride.
Our next major scene sees JC tackle the thin ledges and roof of a large mansion in France. This is a scene though very much like what we have seen before from Jackie still manages to blow you away as Jackie leaps and runs along the smallest of ledges with ease and all without aid.
But it does not stop there, this all ends with JC in a large maze being chased by dogs, and if you catch the out-takes you can see there were some scary moments as the Doberman dogs got a bit more excited than they should have with Jackie really getting attacked.
Now Jackie did all his stunts with little aid from his stunt team, other than them being used as assailants or helping the other stars get to grips with their own scenes.
The film seems quite vast especially when the team set off in search of the island where the Indestructible was meant to have come to its demise.
Now in the old days, Jackie would have gone with his team and the actors and actresses to an Island and performed their stunts and shot their scenes on-site and bearing the elements.
Nowadays people won't commit to such dangers and of course as film budgets rise you can't risk injuring the stars so they can't work. So the whole Jungle scene was a huge set built in a studio, it also lent itself to some of the films' 3D effects.
Even still some of the stunts performed were quite hair raising, and I remember seeing an outtake of Laura Weissebecker on a Safety wire as she had to go down a rock-face (that they had built remember ) and she was screaming and Jackie was telling her she be OK. And then you think back to poor Maggie Cheung and what she went through filming Police Story and Project A pt 2.
It was great to see Ken Lo on-screen as the pirate leader, but I so wanted Jackie and Ken to lock horns, since Drunken Master 2, I along with many fans I am sure would like to see a rematch between Ken and Jackie.
There are lots of other little scenes that entertain but there are two major scenes left, we have the replica factory of MP corporation where Jackie Goes to help save some students, it's also where he meets his arch-nemesis the Vulture. ( Alaa Safi) , the fight between JC and Vulture is quite unique.
What's more, it's also where we get to see Zhang Lan Xin ( Bonnie ) go head to head with Caitlin Dechelle in a girl-on-girl match. Jackie also gets to use every prop he can find in a running battle with the guards.
Our next big scene is where Lawrence Morgan has threatened to drop the Dragonhead bronze into an active volcano unless some bids on it in the forthcoming auction.
It's here where JC must stop Vulture from carrying out this deed in an aerial combat scene which works quite well.
Of course, they did not skydive out of a plane at 20'000 feet and try and beat each other up. The scene was filmed in Latvia at a wind tunnel, so yes Jackie and Alaa Safi did don aerial suits and fight in mid-air once they got the hang of staying up...
So is CZ12 worth the wait and the two-hour run time, in one word YES? It captures the Jackie of old doing it all and proving he's still got it. Yes the multi-language soundtrack may seem a bit confusing to some, but to enjoy this film you have to watch it and get the story, and like many of Jackie's old films watch It again immediately (or the next day) and now you know the story, would see what you missed the first time around, the many little intricacies from JC popping chewing gum into his mouth to performing some of the craziest moves he has in years.
It was also great to see JC has assembled a great cast of fighters, with Alaa Safi and Zhang Lan Xin being Taekwondo champions and Caitlin Dechelle a multiple Karate champion. And if you have seen Once Upon a Time in a High School your know that Kwon Sang-Woo is capable in martial arts, though I thought he did not get to show too much on screen.
Well now, your thinking why has this not gained a top score from us. Well, two reasons I don't think it manages to accomplish in the same way that says Police Story or even Little Big Soldier did. Police Story showed the world Jackie Chan had arrived, Little Big Soldier showed the world Jackie had full-filled one of his dreams, the film was so well suited to Jackie in his older years and it had so much passion about it.
The other reason is two of the scenes are filmed for 3D effect for sure and viewing in 2D does not cut it really. The thing is most will view this on DVD, whether the UK gets a Bluray with 3D I don't know, if it does then I will add a mini-review of that. But due to not having the equipment to view the Hong Kong 3D Bluray I had to go the DVD route. Even though I watched the film on a large projection screen.
In the end, CZ12 is a fine film and a return to old for Jackie, the fans of his American films may find it a bit fussy and wacky in places, but it's how I remember his old films to be. If you are a fan of Jackie's earlier work you're sure to love this, even with the long-running time.
And anyway, the fans are what make it a success, and the numerous awards the film has won and been nominated for can't be a bad sign, but for a film which cost US$26'000'000, in China alone it has taken US$138'000'000 at the box office, can't be bad then.
For me, I wait with anticipation for Jackie's Police Story 2013, as I am sure it will surprise me.
Score out of Ten = 8
Review Date: 19-05-13
Reviewer: Sertes Nake
CZ12 was featured at the 2014 Terracotta Far East Film Festival in London. See our feature on the event
2013 Hong Kong Film Awards - Winner Best Action Choreography - Jackie Chan ,Bradley Allen,Jun He and the Jackie Chan stunt team.
9th Huading Awards - Winner - Jackie Chan -Best Director
Winner - Best Action Choreography - Jackie Chan stunt Team
Winner - Best new artist - Zhang Lan -Xin
Okinawa Film Festival 2013 - Winner - The Laugh Grand Prix Prize , beating nine other entrants
Jackie Chan as Asian Hawk, better known as JC
Kwon Sang-woo as Simon
Liao Fan as David
Yao Xing Tong as Coco
Zhang Lan Xin as Bonnie
Laura Weissbecker as Catherine de Sichel
Jonathan Lee as Jonathan Lee
Vincent Sze as Michael Morgan
Alaa Safi as Vulture
Pierre Bourdaud as Pirate
Emmanuel Lanzi as Henchman
Rosario Amadeo as Pierre
Pierre-Benoist Varoclier as Léon
Wilson Chen as Wu Qing
Ken Lo as Pirate Chief
Oliver Platt as Lawrence Morgan
Caitlin Dechelle as Katie
Bo-Yee Poon as Lawrence's Assistant
Shu Qi as David's wife (cameo)
Daniel Wu as Doctor (cameo)
Joan Lin as JC's wife (cameo)
Kenny G as Airplane pilot (cameo)
© Emperor Motion Pictures / Jackie and JJ Productions 2012
|Directed by||Jackie Chan|
|Produced by|| |
|Written by||Jackie Chan|
|Screenplay by|| |
Yao Xing Tong
Zhang Lan Xin
|Music by|| |
Ng Man Ching
Yip Siu Ching
Ng Man Chuen
|Editing by||Yau Chi Wah|
JCE Movies Limited
Emperor Classic Films
Emperor Dragon Movies
Jackie & JJ Productions
|Distributed by|| |
Emperor Motion Pictures
Star Cinema (Philippines)
Jackie & JJ Productions (Worldwide)
|Release dates|| |
12 December 2012 (Gala premier)
20 December 2012 (Asia)
|Running time||123 minutes|
Source : wikipedia