The redeeming feature of his films has always been the intricate stunts, but in CZ 12 (aka Chinese Zodiac), the accent is on a dull story with very little action or humour.
This time, the Hong Kong honcho, who also wrote, directed and edited the picture, portrays a mercenary tasked with retrieving stolen statues representing the Chinese Zodiac animals. Pillaged by invading Anglo-French forces in the late 19th century, these imperial relics are coveted by antique dealers.
Teaming up with a Chinese student-activist and a Frenchwoman (Weissbecker), Chan and his side-chicks strive to keep us engrossed. Expectedly, the screenplay ensures Chan has a change of heart. The occasional comic touches elicit more groans. As for the patriotic message, it is conveyed heavy-handedly.
It’s only a couple of skirmishes towards the finale which demonstrate the Chan sparkle. If CZ 12 is Chan’s swansong, the four-decade long career of a peerless entertainer ends with a whimper. Sad.