ZODIAC suffers from one of the wackiest, dullest plots ever conceived. It does, however, deliver jolts of Chan's insanely creative action and stunts but it seriously disappoints in the fight scene department where there are too few, coming too late and not treated very seriously at that.
The plot here is so utterly uninteresting that's it's painful to relay. It concerns an emotional, worldwide, mass youth uprising demanding the return of plundered ancient artifacts to their native countries after hundreds, even thousands of years. Chan is chicklet popping 'J.C.' (aka the Asian Hawk, Condor- whatever) and he and his small band of adventuresome thieves are after some lame bronze zodiac heads to sell on the world market. Unfortunately, they soon soften up and join the loser protesters, forgoing profit for patriotism. Yeah, like I give a rat's ass that some long-gone, thousand-year-old blood-thirsty tyrants and regimes get their art and relics (created by the blood, sweat and tears of slaves!) returned for the lame sake of cultural heritage and patriotism? 'F' that! One character even has the gall to list some obscure French atrocities committed against the Chinese as if the multitude of dynasties, not to mention Mao himself (the world's undefeated champion for the single greatest mass murderer in recorded history!), didn't torture and slaughter millions upon millions of their own people! Somehow it's only morally wrong when foreigners do the slaying and oppressing?
Ultimately, ZODIAC only needed a simple, scaled down story with a few clever series of obstacles to let Chan do his thing. There's really only one impressive fighter he opposes and it's more of a humorous grudge match that doesn't go anywhere and they end up being friends in the end.
A problem in even his best films, the female characters here are screechy, nightmarish and annoying as hell, rarely showing hints of sanity and physical strength though there is a good girl-girl fight later on. Oliver Platt is the rational, reasonable businessman villain who is never really a major threat to anyone. A skin-head, tattooed Ken Lo (DRUNKEN MASTER II) shows up as the leader of a rag-tag team of zany pirates but he doesn't get to show off any of his formidable fight skills. Most of the film's characters and actors are so ridiculous and annoying that you wish Chan would do the smart thing and resort to a his own version of Stallone's EXPENDABLES. He should just enlist an A-Team of the greatest, bad-ass Asian fight stars ever and go for it! A no-brainer.
Most interesting, is the appearance by Jackie's real-life wife who, in a flash of creative casting, shows up as his wife. Former Chan co-star, Qi Shou (GORGEOUS) also pops up for a blink-and-you'll-miss-her cameo shot. Also noticeably weak is the film's production design, sadly credited to Chan himself. The absurd multi-color sets (including a cheesy, plastic looking jungle!) and tacky wardrobe look like a Sid & Marty Kroft show on acid . There is some really bad French pop and Chinese rap music and tons of poorly rendered CG to add to the circus-like atmosphere. The bottom line is this- Chan never ceases to entertain and deliver high impact thrills on some super-human level and it's always an event (at least for me) to see him on the big screen in anything.
The film was released in China in 3D and reportedly dubbed and trimmed to a tighter running time by Chan himself for the U.S. I'm not sure if it's in the Chinese cut but during the end credits (yes, Chan fans always stay through the credits), after the bloopers, a greatest hits complilation of action clips unspools while Jackie thanks his worldwide fans in a short rant, almost as if he's retiring, going away or something. Weird. Support Chan and his Chinese productions so catch it while you can!
Watch the U.S trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYS6au7UzZc