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I strongly recommend this move. It is quirky and divine ... Mr. Kumar is always a joy. His dancing is superb ... his athletics are always graceful and ... his early martial arts training permeates much of his physical prowess.
Definitely buy this movie.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Loved itJan. 17 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I grew up on Hong Kong martial arts films, recently visited the Forbidden City Palace and Great Wall in Beijing, and heard this was the first Bollywood kung fu comedy, so I went to watch this movie on its opening night. I absolutely loved it.
I'm not familiar with Bollywood, but I thought the movie might be goofy-silly from the trailer. It was so much more than that.
The plot is well summarized by another reviewer, so I won't go into it in detail. Basically, a comedic buffoon in India is tricked into going to China to help an oppressed village. Along the way, he finds love, kung fu, and himself. The plot was complex but fun. The movie is in Hindi (spoken by the characters from India) and Mandarin (spoken by the characters from China) with good English subtitles.
In some points where the plot stretched credibility, I figured it was a Bollywood thing, and just went with the flow. For example, the heroine's family situation, airport incident, the drunken master fight, the kung fu training sequences, were all a bit unrealistic, but great fun.
The costumes and dancing were great (who knew a womem could dance in the long chinese cheongsam dresses?). I especially liked the scenes set in the Forbidden City Palace and the Great Wall. I read that this was the first fight scene permitted to be filmed on the Great Wall, and having been on the beautiful, windy, and super-steep steps of the Great Wall, I loved each and every Great Wall scene. I read that they shut down tourism for the filming, which is impressive given how packed the tourist site normally is.
I expected a lot of eye candy going in, based on the trailer, but I was caught completely by surprise by just how funny and dramatic the movie was. My friend and I laughed so hard that we cried through many points of the movie (laughing so hard our eyes were shut and I missed some of the English subtitles). There were some very touching points in the movie, aptly scored by a beautiful musical score.
The hero was an amazing actor. Initially, he is a completely pathetic and cringe-worthy coward. There was a lot of slapstick and very funny physical humour. By the end of the movie the hero was James-Bond handsome and riveting. I often see female characters have this physical transformation in movies (mouse to model) but have never seen this in a male character. The hero was completely believable and his transformation was very touching.
Some of the martial arts scenes might seem over the top, but the Hong Kong film martial arts are just like that, with exploding boxes, water rising, internal strength forces battling it out through palm stances, windstorms, etc. It was just like a really good martial arts film with Bollywood dancing and plot touches.
The movie was longer than I was used to, but I figured that was a Bollywood thing and enjoyed every minute of it. Be warned, though, there is quite a bit of casual physical discipine between adult children and their parental figures, which was a bit of a surprise to me.
There were some corny points, which I initially thought was bad directing, but the rest of the theatre laughed extremely hard right away, so I guess it was a sly spoof device used in Bollywood movies. For example, one of the funniest scenes for me is when the Indian/Chinese friend of the hero sees the assassin for the first time and after a stunned silence, bursts into song. The entire audience was howling with laughter and clapping, as the comedic timing in that scene was just perfect.
I highly recommend this film to everyone. More than 24 hours later, I'm still thinking of the film and smiling in memory of some of the scenes. I'm definitely going to get this on blu-ray when it comes out.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Sugar and Spice? Or Bitter as a Lemon?May 25 2010
Hui Shen ben Israel
- Published on Amazon.com
This movie gives Boliwood (Bollywood?--that's not the right spelling) the best of good names. Bread-baking Brahmin-caste Sidhu (an amazing and hilarious Akshay Kumar), a denizen of the Chandni Chowk district of Delhi, can't catch a break. He needs money, wants a better destiny, and falls on his face every time. He accidentally burns his winning lottery ticket in the little fire of his home altar as he shouts at the goddess' statue, "OK!! Take it!!"
One day he and his goofy Chinese friend "Chopstick" (a very Chinese-looking Ranvir Shorey) are approached by two Chinese villagers. They are sure Sidhu is a reincarnation of a great martial arts hero. They beg him to return with them to China to fight the evil gang boss "Hojo" (the immortal Chia Hui "Gordon" Liu). However, it is incumbent upon the klutzy Sidhu to learn kung fu. Still he goes, with the blessing of the adopted older brother, the elderly Dada, who took him in as a child (Mithun Chakraborthy).
I have to stop there, as this film is just too darned funny, touching and wonderful to spoil. You will die laughing at the clever songs, how fitting and apropos they are and how...well, just plain funny. This film's humor reminded me of Jackie Chan at his best--yet it is truly and purely Indian in all ways. Even the Chinese seem to be straight out of an old Indian village in the Punjab.
Akshay Kumar is a multi-talented prodigy. I cannot believe I haven't noticed him before, but I will be from now forwards. I also deeply admire the powerful presence of Mithun Chakraborthy.
You will never regret having this fantastic Indian jewel in your collection, and you will always go back to watch it for the pure delightful fun. And there is whoopass martial action, as well as a profound lesson for all of us.
Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go sing a few bars of "Hello, I'm a Chinese Guy".
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Big Hit!!!Feb. 11 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
This movie has been named the worst movie in india. I just do not think people actually understand the effort that was made into this movie. Akshay Kumar has done a fabulous job in this movie. His acting skills are exactly what an actor needs to have. His stunt, his dialogue, his comedy everything he did in the movie was absolutely fantastic. The movie story revolved around a lot of stories but yet the effort that was put into making this movie was great. The Actor who played the Guru of Akshay's Character Sidhu was fanstastic. His hindi speaking was absolutely marvlous. The guy should be recognized for doing what he did in the movie. Deepka made this movie a completely astonishing. Her marshal art was completely awesome. I hope there is a sequel to this movie and I hope that india should recognize that the movie was not a disaster but it was a GREAT Effort!!! Love Ya akshay, Love ya Deepka, and Love you Chinese Guy
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fun Bollywood-fu - Akshay Kumar plays a reincarnated ancient Chinese warriorJune 15 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar, in his roles, tends to regularly shift from playing it silly to playing it serious, and most times he does this in the same movie. CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA is a fusion of fatuous farce, mawkish sentiment and high adventure, of Bollywood conventions and soaring Chinese martial arts. There's much to like about this movie, but also much to groan and roll your eyes at.
In China the village Zhange struggles under the oppression of the murderous smuggler lord Hojo. In desperation the villagers consult a wise man and learn that salvation lies in the shape of the legendary, centuries-dead warrior Liu Sheng, who has been reincarnated in today's world. Except that Liu Sheng has been reborn to another nationality, another country: in India.
Akshay Kumar plays Sidhu, a dimwitted vegetable chopper plying his trade at a roadside food stand in Chandni Chowk, one of the busiest market districts in Delhi, India. Discontented with his lowly lot, Sidhu (who, remember, is dimwitted) is lured away to faraway China by two Chinese elders. It's actually more Sidhu's friend Chopstick's fault. Chopstick, of possibly Indian-Chinese descent, is one of those manipulative, self-absorbed sorts, and he seizes an opportunity. The two old Chinese men are, of course, Zhange villagers, and they believe Sidhu to be their reincarnated protector Liu Sheng; they ask that Sidhu return with them to kill Hojo. Instead Chopstick (the vaguely Asian-looking Ranvir Shorey), purposely mistranslating, tells Sidhu that he will be feted as a king should he journey to China. So off goes the gullible Sidhu with Chopstick riding his coattails, from Chandni Chowk to China.
I like much of the film's tongue-in-cheek internal mythology. During its best outrageous moments CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA is reminiscent of Stephen Chow's very awesome Kung Fu Hustle (Axe-Kickin' Edition). In both films, kung fu practitioners disregard the laws of gravity as they make impossible leaps and perform other outlandish stunts. Vicious contact propels bodies to improbable distances and with lethal impact (but then folks just get up and dust themselves off). Speaking of internal mythology, the film never does confirm whether Sidhu was indeed the modern day Liu Sheng. And, oh yes, I have to mention the fairly outrageous Cosmos Thumb.
Considering the source (Bollywood), the wushu is actually pretty decent, even though I don't quite buy Akshay Kumar as a kung fu fighter (although he's certainly done plenty of action movies). But the inclusion of Chinese actors like Gordon Liu and Roger Yuan - both very good as, respectively, the fiendish Hojo and the kind of insane amnesiac beggar/police inspector - make it a respectable martial arts venture. Liu (best known probably for The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and the KILL BILL flicks) and Yuan are convincing in their acting and in their kung fu, even if Hojo's hat trick had already been done by a James Bond villain. And, for the sake of cinematic resonance, it doesn't hurt that Roger Yuan bears a striking resemblance with Takashi Shimura, the leader of the SEVEN SAMURAI. But if you've already seen films featuring Jackie Chan or Jet Li or if you've seen KUNG FU HUSTLE, then there's really no surprise in the fight scenes.
The stunning Deepika Padukone takes on dual parts. She plays the conventional love interest Sakhi, a spokesmodel of Indian-Chinese descent working for Tele-Shopping Media (Sakhi is known as Ms. TSM). But the meatier of the two roles is that of Suzy (or Meow Meow). Suzy is Sakhi's villainous twin sister and, as one of Hojo's henchmen, her kung fu is strong. It says something about Padukone's grace and physicality that I find her more believable as a martial artist than I do Akshay.
As Bollywood films are wont to do, the first half starts out in a silly vein as Sidhu's vacuous nature is again and again demonstrated, giving rise to moronic situations (one fellow airline passenger persistently asks Sidhu: "Are you stupid?"). Akshay Kumar seems to get a kick out of starring in madcap comedies, but I find that the quality of these films tends to come and go. Having said that, there was that airplane bit where Sidhu had trouble closing the overhead luggage compartment. For minutes afterwards I was giggling (but in a manly way). But, yes, Sidhu is one of those aggravating dopes, the type who ends up believing that a potato is a god.
And, as usual with Bollywood, the second half takes on a more serious tone, and this is where Akshay Kumar's goofball character transforms himself into an action hero. Akshay, when he turns it on, has tremendous acting chops. (*SPOILER* in the rest of this paragraph.) Akshay is very good and sympathetic during the death of his character's father, the tragedy which fuels Sidhu to master kung fu and to get even with Hojo. Afterwards, though, I did think that he went to the well too much with the blubbering for his dead dada.
Yes, the humor is predominantly cheesy, but there are several genuinely funny moments scattered throughout. I've already mentioned the airplane scene but I also laughed hard and plenty when Akshay gets strapped with the Dance Master G9 device, and at that short musical interlude with the odd little Chinese inventor and during Roger Yuan and Akshay's brawl with White Bull in that little diner and then during the training sessions, with Akshay and Yuan showing very good tongue-in-cheek apprentice/master chemistry. I'm sure I missed other moments.
The DVD, by way of bonus features, also offers 8 and a half minutes of eight additional scenes, the scene most worth watching being the one with Sidhu frantically trying to evade Hojo in a restaurant kitchen. And that's it for bonus features.
Three and a half stars for CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA, an entertaining film somewhat undermined by the banal stuff and by all the overwrought shedding of tears. This being a Bollywood vehicle, much emphasis is placed on the importance of family; Sakhi, for example, travels to China mainly to commemorate her long dead father's passing; the amnesiac beggar's memory is fully restored when he glimpses a photo of his family. Another Bollywood trademark is the song & dance, and the musical numbers here are nicely picturized. I enjoyed the lavish "Chandni Chowk to China" and even "Tere Naina," a brief song which lends to a surreal magical vision of Sudhi and Sakhi gently floating in the air, buoyed by an engineered umbrella. Also note that Akshay handles his own rapping during the song "Chandni Chowk to China (CC2C)" during the end credits. It's a bit disconcerting, though, watching these Bollywood stars in their dance numbers being backed up by Chinese dancers. "Disconcerting" being another good word to describe this movie overall, and I think in a good way. I mean, it's got singing and dancing, a bit of Chinese mysticism and some romancing, and everybody's kung-fu fighting. That is very neat.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Clever and imaginative mix of Bollywood and Hong Kong kung fuJan. 17 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA is the first Bollywood movie to get a nationwide release in the U.S. from a major Hollywood studio. Warner Bros. is not only distributing, but was also the producer, part of a growing move by the Hollywood majors to get involved in Asian film production. As such, it's less intended for diehard Bollywood audiences than for the international audience that greeted such past co-productions as CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000) and KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004). It helps to be at least a little familiar with Bollywood and kung fu genre conventions before tackling this 154-minute combo of action, comedy, romance, melodrama, music, dance, and exotic locations. My guess is that adventurous audience members who embraced KILL BILL VOL. 1, BRIDE AND PREJUDICE and KUNG FU HUSTLE would also enjoy this.
The plot has to do with a poor Indian man named Sidhu, who works in a food shop but nurses dreams of bigger things when he is invited to a Chinese village, for reasons that are misrepresented to him, only to find out when he gets there that he's believed to be a reincarnation of an ancient Chinese warrior named Liu Sheng and is expected to vanquish the local tyrant, Hojo, who keeps the villagers enslaved. Various setbacks ensue until Sidhu resolves to undergo kung fu training and live up to the faith the villagers had in him. Also involved are two half-Indian/half-Chinese twin girls, Sakhi and Suzy, one good and one criminal, who'd been separated from their father and each other as infants. The dialogue is primarily in Hindi, with large sections in Mandarin and some English lines sprinkled throughout. Location filming includes many scenes filmed in Shanghai and at the Great Wall of China.
The international cast is led by Akshay Kumar, a top Bollywood action and comedy star who is evidently India's answer to Jackie Chan. This is the first of his films I've seen and I'm eager to see more. He has the difficult job of balancing the action, comic, romantic and dramatic needs of the script at every unpredictable plot turn and he does so brilliantly. Some of the gags are a bit over-the-top (such as when Sidhu's Indian mentor, Dada, gives him a super-powered kick and he goes flying into the sky above the city), but the alternate universe the film sets up allows for cartoonish gags, wild shifts in tone, and ready suspension of disbelief. Hong Kong kung fu star Gordon Liu (prominently featured in both volumes of KILL BILL) plays the villain, Hojo. The beautiful Indian actress, Deepika Padukone, plays the dual roles of Sakhi and Suzy and manages to make us feel empathy for both characters. Roger Yuan, an actor featured in American martial arts films and Hollywood blockbusters, is very good as the Chinese father of the twins and the kung fu teacher who takes Sidhu under his wing.
I found the whole production extremely satisfying and never felt that it was too far-fetched or contrived. If I have any quibble, it's that there weren't enough songs. There are two major production numbers and a few songs on the soundtrack at different times and they were all so good that I wanted more. Most Bollywood films have a lot more music and dance, but this time those sequences were toned down for the international audience. The film is 154 minutes, which is short for Bollywood (but long for a kung fu movie), yet I found it to be just the right length, although I wouldn't have minded it being longer to accommodate some more music. I saw this in Manhattan, where it's playing in only two theaters. It may be hard to find, but it's highly recommended.