While The Myth featured Bollywood actors Mallika Sherawat, Ram Gopal Bajaj, and Sudhanshu Pandey in brief but memorable roles, Kung Fu Yoga takes this a step further and creates an onscreen team of actors from China and India. This was purposeful because Kung Fu Yoga is the first India-China co-production. According to the Hindustan Times, the September 2014 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and China was signed to
“pool their creative, artistic, technical, financial and marketing resources to co-produce films. It would help Indian audio-visual products to gain greater market access."
Kung Fu Yoga opens with the animated story of a battle in Magadha, an ancient kingdom in India. Magadha is mentioned in the Mahabharata and is the kingdom where Gautam Siddharth achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha.
In this story, the battle is won with the help of an army from China. But more help is needed, and our heroes are sent off from Magadha with treasure and tribute in the hope that they will return with more military aid.
Centuries later, Jack is invited by researchers in India (Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur) to help them track down what happened to the ill-fated trip of the Chinese army. Jack enlists the help of treasure hunter Jones Lee (Aarif Rahman) and the adventure begins.
Unfortunately, our intrepid heroes are not the only ones in search of the lost treasure of Magadha. A group of mercenaries, led by Bollywood actor Sonu Sood seeks to benefit from the clues uncovered by Jack and his team.
The film gives a nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and there are several references to The Myth storyline sprinkled throughout. While you should take time to watch The Myth for its entertainment value, it isn't required viewing to enjoy Kung Fu Yoga. While The Myth had a story of romance at its heart, Kung Fu Yoga is focused more on the hunt.
While the overall storyline - archeologist hunts for treasure while bad guy gets in the way - doesn't offer anything really new, the entertainment value comes in the telling of the tale. As one would expect from a Jackie Chan film, the action sequences offer several memorable scenes - including a hilarious car chase that ends in a very out-of-sorts lion.
In a Bollywood Spy interview, Sonu Sood explained:
"I always say that entertainment has no language ... people connect with anything which is entertaining."
While the film performed well in China, it wasn't as well-received in India due to some scenes which supported the backward stereotypes India has tried to get past. While the idea that if you are Indian you do yoga seems to be a prevalent idea running through the film, the most potentially offensive scene is that of the Rajasthan bazaar which features snake charmers and the ole' Indian rope trick. Fortunately, part of the humor of this scene is the exposure of the tricks of the trade behind these gimmicks that have defined India for far too long.
Kung Fu Yoga is an entertaining comedy that is worth a watch whether or not you are a Chinawood or Bollywood fan. But if you are a Bollywood fan, you will want to watch for the big dance number performed to an updated version of The Myth theme song and choreographed by Farah Khan.
The following playlist includes trailers for the film Kung Fu Yoga.
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