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(3.5 STARS) Jackie Chan Going Back to Old-Fashioned Action Comedy
on April 22, 2013
"CZ 12" or "Chinese Zodiac" opens with a brief introduction about a historical episode about twelve bronze Chinese zodiac statues looted from the Old Summer Palace in 1860 Beijing during the Second Opium War. Produced, written and directed by Jackie Chan, the film revolves around a treasure hunting team led by Jackie Chan's Asian Hawk, who is hired by Lawrence Morgan (Oliver Platt), a greedy billionaire and owner of a company trading in antiques, to steal the world's valuable treasures and artifacts.
The film's basic format is virtually that of "Armour of God" and its sequel "Armour of God II: Operation Condor," with adventures featuring Jackie Chan and sidekicks (including beautiful women) against the background of exotic locations. The storyline is often incoherent, and female players (Laura Weissbecker in particular) are relegated to thankless supporting roles, but action set-pieces are enjoyable.
58-year-old Jackie Chan still pulls off his trademark physical comedy routines with flair, using props opposite Alaa Safi, but don't expect stunt work of his 80s and 90s classics. Kwon Sang-woo and Liao Fan are good as members of the treasure hunting team, but I think the film could have used martial arts skills of Caitlin Dechelle and Zhang Lanxin more effectively. Their martial arts scene is too brief.
In short, this is a good old fashioned action-comedy, though you might want more action and less comedy while watching it.