Chinese Zodiac (2013)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A globe-trotting adventurer uses high-tech gadgets to seek out priceless relics in this action-packed thrill ride starring the one and only Jackie Chan. Centuries ago, a collection of zodiac busts were the pride of China. Flash forward to today, and the bronze heads of those busts are missing. When powerful entrepreneur Lawrence (Oliver PLatt) offers a sizable reward for their recovery, the intrepid Asian Fox (Chan) races to find them, and ensure that China's history is preserved. Meanwhile, … More

Rating: PG-13 (for martial arts action, some violent content and brief nudity)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Jackie Chan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 25, 2014

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Critic Reviews for Chinese Zodiac

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (4)

Lackluster, slow and with only hints of the combo of kineticism, kung fu and comedy that was part of Chan's appeal in the first place, Chinese Zodiacdoesn't do justice to the actor's filmic heritage.

Full Review… | October 18, 2013
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
Top Critic

What a pity this workout doesn't deliver a stronger kick.

Full Review… | October 17, 2013
New York Times
Top Critic

Will likely leave most ... viewers dazed, confused and eagerly watching the clock.

Full Review… | October 17, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The pic reps an uneven ride that is repeatedly stalled by grandstanding anti-colonial screeds.

Full Review… | May 2, 2013
Top Critic

Chinese Zodiac, reportedly one of Chan's swan songs for action, shows that he's still looking for ways to be creative, and finding lucrative opportunities.

Full Review… | October 24, 2013

The bilingual story doesn't have enough intrigue to sustain itself at feature length.

Full Review… | October 18, 2013

Audience Reviews for Chinese Zodiac

Chinese Zodiac follows JC search for the twelve bronze heads of the animals from the Chinese Zodiac. Aside from the protagonist name being JC (probably Jackie Chan does this kind of activity in his spare time) the story will not register a pulse. Literally the first action scene written into the film is just for the sake of it. What occurred in that action scene involving JC as a human rollerblade is never mentioned again. Speaking of which, it does attempt to developed it cast of characters albeit clumsily. At random characters will reveal bits of themselve when talking to each other during an operation which gets interrupted by contrivances or convenience. Development feels force as every plot device it uses to move forward makes it difficult to care when nothing is earned and resolved by luck. The dialogue ranges from steal this artifact, I hate your ancestors for stealing from us, we're procrastinating doing anything evil to you for a comedic routine variety. All the while JC reiterates at several points during the movie the "great injustice and disrespect" the Western countries have shown to the Chinese in the past. This message is heavy-handed because of how often it's brought up. One could look past the only Western representation is a stereotypical dumb blonde, but to solely act as if only one nation wronged China people does not help with it message of great injustice. I don't know much about China history, but, um, remember Unit 731 screenwriters? I do and in case you do that's because no one beats it over your head with how wrong it was.

For two acts the film goes for a lighthearted and comedic tone until the final arc which gears the tone to be more serious. Characters we follow that had no problem stealing rare artifacts for money developed a contrive code of honor towards the end. Yeah, because the same guy who has no problem stealing artifacts from the rich should really send the message that stealing is wrong. Chinese Zodiac takes a couple narrative inspiration from "Mission Impossible" globe trotting with some implausible gadgets (like the replica printer), the "Ocean's Trilogy" team dynamics, and inability to balance action and comedy like "Once A Thief". Failing to make the most of it settings to make it feel like a grand scale adventure, a bland team whose planning process before an operation is never seen, and succeeding in being unable to balance a tone. Writing is all over the place attempting to be many things failing to be a single good thing. As for which version you see really doesn't matter. In the first cut I've seen that was fourteen minute shorter had rush pacing putting emphasizes on comedy with very little breathing to naturally develop the story. All the problems in the Chinese cut of the film are made more apparent, though it ends quicker.

Jackie Chan is the center of attention rendering the whole team dynamic a bit redundant. Chan carries the movie on his weight being the enjoyable goofball for two acts and going for serious in the final act. This role doesn't challenge Chan to balance the comedy and drama like he master in previous films, but does a good job none the less. Supporting cast is decent, though mostly forgettable as comic reliefs to prolong one particular comedic action piece on an ancient ship. Action wise two of the film biggest set pieces are underwhelming at best. On paper Chan as a human rollerblade sounds exciting, but not so much in execution as in the way it was shot makes as if it was performed slowly. Another is a long set piece on ancient ship that is in favor to show comedic antics than actual fighting. Lasting allot longer than it needed too with added slapstick. The only worthwhile action sequences appear in the final forty minutes of the film. Allowing Chan use his environment against his opponent and fight against fighters that actually hit him. These fight scenes are reminiscent of Chan golden days since they stripped Chan of all his contraptions and unnecessary embellishment. Improvising with what's ever around him with fast choreography combined with unique ways to take down his opponents. If these were the film final action sequences it would have ended on a high note in the action department. Sadly, there's one in the uneventful climax involving four skydivers, and a volcano. On paper doesn't that sound awesome, but in execution poor CG, slowly performed action, and no decent setup dooms it.

Chinese Zodiac comes across as a knock off of a good Jackie Chan film that just so happen to have the actual star in it. It's story is uninteresting simply tossing an action sequence for the sake of it and sprinkling muddle characterization with little breathing room until the next plot devices rears itself in. On the action side the first half of the film is unimpressive or get interrupted by an overlong slapstick comedy routine. It has three good fight scenes two of which that serves to remind viewers of Chan's skill as a fighter, but the climax leaves plenty to be desired. On a technical level there's nothing much wrong with the film with the exception of few instances of bad CG. When there's only three scene in a two hours movie that highlight it star true talent it's stop being merely a bad movie and more a disappointment for fans.

Caesar Mendez

Super Reviewer


This Chinese-Hong Kong action film is produced, written, directed by, and starring Jackie Chan. CZ12 (Chinese: 十二生肖), also known as Chinese Zodiac, is a pseudo-reboot of a film franchise that began with Armour of God (1987) and its sequel, Armour of God II: Operation Condor. I watched it yesterday in a full cinema and I am glad that with this film, Chan earned two Guinness World Records: "Most Stunts Performed by a Living Actor" and "Most Credits in One Movie". I can say WOW to him... Jackie Chan is really a legend of the industry!

I have to say that the weakest point of this movie is the story: begins by a man telling the story of the Old Summer Palace and how it was looted in the 1700s by the British in the Second opium war. Among the treasures are bronze heads of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals... In the present day, the bronze heads are auctioned for over a million euros each and the main company supplying the bronze heads and other stolen relics (MP Corporation) hires JC (Jackie Chan) to find the 12 bronze heads, with a promise of a huge reward if he can obtain the full set.

On the other hand, this story was developed enough to support the action which was full throttle in 3D for most of the movie! Latest technology gadgets used were heaven for guys watching it (as well as the gorgeous actresses) and they were used in some of the most imaginative actions scenes I witnessed in my life. Chan wrote this script for seven years, and the film took a year and half to make. He said it was an important movie for him because it will be his last major action feature, although he insisted it is not the end of his action career.

I enjoyed it... if you like JC don't miss it!

Panta Oz

Super Reviewer

(3 Stars) (109-min American cut) Let's get something straight: the version I saw isn't a great edit of Chinese Zodiac. There's very little setup, basically no introduction to the characters, very odd editing, and everything about it seems rushed. I wish I saw the over two hour "directors cut" or the version they screened in China.

But for the most part, I still liked it. I'm extremely biased toward Jackie Chan. The action in the movie is classic Jackie... I know he does wire-work now, but that doesn't really stunt my enjoyment of it; he's still creatively using props and his environment to make amazing fight scenes. The story is beyond goofy and somewhat confusing. If you count this as Armour of God III, it's definitely not as good as I or II. But Chinese Zodiac is comedic and action-packed Jackie and it reminded me of my favorite films of his. If I was a twelve year old, I probably would have really loved this.

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