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Chandni Chowk to China

A 2009 Hindi musical comedy.

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WTF?

  • Sep 26, 2009
Rating:
+3
Did you ever see a movie that made your jaw drop?  A movie that was so stunningly bizarre that it was all you could do to keep your eyeballs in their sockets? Well that's what I was hoping to get when CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA arrived in my mail box yesterday. Why was I so full of anticipation of freakish delight you ask? Because this Akshay Kumar film, which also co-starred none other than Gordon Liu Chia-hui, was the first Bollywood kung fu movie and if that doesn't conjure up some wild images in your mind then I feel sorry for you because you are obviously a Bollywood virgin and thus incapable of envisioning the havoc that the star of SINGH IS KINGG could wreak upon China in general and the martial arts genre in particular. Kumar is one of India's most popular leading men and although he has a serious macho image the two films I've seen him in have both been very silly comedies in which he's played goofy characters who have been compared to  Adam Sandler seasoned with masala. In SINGH IS KINGG he was such a walking disaster that everyone in his village conspired to have him leave the country on a fool's errand. In CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA he's even worse off-- here he started life as an abandoned baby adopted by a man who owns the food stall where he now works chopping vegetables, when he isn't frequenting fortune tellers or buying losing lottery tickets that is.

Chandni Chowk is the name of a district in old Delhi where Sidhu lives and works with his Dada who loves him dearly despite literally drop kicking him from one side of Delhi to the other for his foolishness in trusting fortune tellers and every other kind of fakir and faker he runs across. One day while chopping potatoes Sidhu finds one that resembles Lord Ganesh (it kind of has an elephant trunk on it) and he's convinced it will  change his life. Actually his life DOES change because 2 men arrive from China convinced that Sidhu is the reincarnation of the legendary warrior Liu Sheng and they cart him back to their village (along with a fortune teller named Chopstick to act as translator) to save them from the evil Hojo, enter Gordon Liu in all his villainous glory. Whew. The catch here is that Chopstick tells Sidhu a little white lie. Instead of telling him that the villagers believe him to be the reincarnation of a warrior and that they expect him to kill Hojo, he tells Sidhu that he was an emperor and they want to honor him. Just a little lie. 

Of course there are other things going on here since that's hardly enough to fill out a 2 and 1/2 hour movie. We also have the love interest (although it never really goes anywhere) in the form of Sakhi, (also known as Miss TSM) who is the  TV Spokes Model for a company that sells among other things the Dance Master G9, a clever device that when strapped to one's ankles can make you dance like a Bollywood star. Gotta get me one of those. Needless to say, our hero falls madly in love with her the instant he sees her on TV but when they meet in person things get off to a rocky start. Sakhi is bound for China too and she has her own story going on involving Hojo who, in true kung fu movie fashion, had killed her father and her infant twin sister Suzy when the family was on an outing to the Great Wall of China. There's more. There's always more.

But what's the bottom line you ask, was it all I had dreamt it would be? Nope. I was disappointed. The first 25 or 30 minutes were actually painful to watch because the humor was so over the top. Remember when I said Sidhu's Dada kicked him from one side of Delhi to the other? I wasn't kidding--he actually goes up into the air and sails over the city causing a danger to low flying aircraft.  We don't even get a musical number until he boards the plane for China and although I enjoyed the number it seemed to be cut very short. Perhaps that's because this film has the distinction of being the first Bollywood film ever picked up by an American company. That's right folks. Warner Brothers hand their dirty little hands all over this flick and I suspect that might have something to do with it's flaws. I'm certain it explains the problems with the DVD release which include the lack of a special feature that let's you access all the musical numbers directly which is something that's been included on every Bollywood flick I've ever rented before. The American version is also 18 minutes shorter than the version the rest of the world got. If they cut out song and dances numbers I'm going to get really pissed because there was a definite shortage of them. What there was was good though, including the rap song Akshay does with the end credits. Who was that black rapper anyhow?

Even though I was disappointed that it wasn't the outlandishly entertaining spectacle I had envisioned, I still wound up liking this flick. Things definitely picked up after Sidhu got to the village of  Zange where it eventually turns into a more conventional martial arts flick with Roger Yuan (who you might remember from an episode of ANGEL) showing up to serve as Sidhu's sifu and help him save the day. Did you know that learning kung fu can also up your I.Q about 30 points? It sure made Sidhu smarter, and better looking too. The action is pretty well handled although there is a lot of wire fu and CGI going on in this flick, and the showdown between Hojo and Sidhu has some laughs in it. I think the part that I liked best is that our hero manages to get through the entire movie without actually killing anyone himself. A good Hindu boy to the very end. By the way those of you who like your women dark haired and gorgeous will not be disappointed. Deepika Padukone who made her debut in OM SHANTI OM will give you a double eyeful in the roles of Sahki and Meow Meow (yes I said Meow Meow) and of course all the back up dancing girls are Chinese.

Should you see it? Sure. If only to see Liu Chia-Hui. But I wouldn't recommend it as anyone's first Bollywood experience.

Rating: 3.75 LOWERED FROM 4 DUE TO THOSE FIRST 25 MINUTES OR SO.
WTF? WTF? WTF? WTF? WTF?

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October 01, 2009
Kung Fu Hustle was completely unexpected and amazing. Completely surprised and delighted by the cinematography and SFX. Story was a bit strange, but the movie overall was eye-popping.
October 02, 2009
I loved it too, strange makes big points with me. Seen any other of Chow's flix? SHAOLIN SOCCER is pretty easily available in bothe original and American cuts. I've also see a couple others. ROYAL TRAMP is on sale at BEST BUY.
October 02, 2009
I like strange stories. There we're a couple continuity problems that bugged me a bit. I'm a bit spoiled and have pretty high expectations of the story.
October 06, 2009
If you guys like Stephen Chow movies, make sure you pick up his classic masterpiece "God of Cookery". It's over-the-top, jaw droppingly strange, hilarious, and amazing! Just think of what happens when you meld Kung Fu with Cooking competitions :) I will have to check out this movie too... thanks for the review! :)
October 06, 2009
Thanks for telling us about that! It sounds like something that shouldn't be missed.
 
September 26, 2009
I would watch ANYTHING with Gordon Liu and Bai Ling (not relevant here) in it! Sounds like this may have been an edited version, big H-wood studios have a reputation of heavily editing Asian movies; (Casshern and The Promise for example) This is rentable through netflix?
September 26, 2009
Bai Ling holds the honor of being one of the few people who can creep me out and turn me on at the same time. Did I just type that aloud?! LOL!
September 26, 2009
Yep, that's where I got it. If you can make it through the first half hour it's not bad. I wound up watching most of it over again before I sent it back and it seemed even better. They would have done better to have picked up ASOKA than this one though. I know that Shah Rukh Khan did bring it to Hollywood for that purpose but it didn't work out. I suppose they thought that the kung fu in this one would be make it more sellable to an American audience.
September 26, 2009
Count, you are really weird.
September 26, 2009
Sorry bad joke. And being weird is a compliment, isn't it?
September 26, 2009
To the truly weird it is , yes.
September 26, 2009
Bai Ling actually has the same effect on me....oh, Karen, I think you may like the movie "Dynamite Warrior"(see my review)...B-movie effects, silly campy story and loads of great action!
September 26, 2009
I read that and it does sound good. I put it on my list already. Didn't I leave a comment?
September 26, 2009
nope, which is why I thought you missed it...even Orlok was intrigued LOL!
September 26, 2009
Well I've since corrected that error.
September 27, 2009
=)
 
September 26, 2009
Aw, poo. And here you had me all excited about potential "freakish delight". Too bad. What did you think of Gordon Liu in "Kill Bill"?
September 26, 2009
Sorry. No QT for me.
September 26, 2009
No? I thought that at least that one would've had your interest.
September 26, 2009
I'm very anti David Carradine because of the whole getting the part in "Kung Fu" instead of Bruce Lee thing. To tell you the truth I didn't even know Liu Chia-Hui was in it.
September 26, 2009
I understand that. I had for a long time refused to watch a single episode of "Kung Fu" because I'm still furious about that, but the fact remains that the show was really cool.
September 26, 2009
All I saw was a big, dumb looking white guy who was so awkward and slow that they HAD to put him in slow motion. I tried watching the show many times but couldn't stay with it. He just looked so stoned.
July 12, 2011
He probably was.
July 12, 2011
I know he was. He never made any secret of that fact,
 
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About the reviewer
karen ()
Ranked #21
I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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Wiki

Chandni Chowk to China is a Hindi film which released on 16 January 2009. It is directed by Nikhil Advani and stars Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone in the lead roles, with Hindi cinema veteran Mithun Chakraborty and Hong Kong action cinema veteran Gordon Liu among the co-stars. In addition to being shot in China, many parts of the film were shot in Bangkok, Thailand, although some of the China scenes were shot in sets in the Shanghai Film Studio.

Distributed in the U.S. and co-produced by Warner Bros., it is the third Bollywood movie made and distributed in partnership with a major Hollywood studio, following Sony's Saawariya (2007) and Walt Disney Pictures' animated feature Roadside Romeo (2008). It is Warner Bros. Pictures' first Hindi film.

The movie received negative reviews. It received 46% positive ratings on the film-critics aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and a 44 out of 100 score from Metacritic. Claudia Puig of USA Today said, "This Indian/Chinese cinematic hybrid is likable and entertaining but overlong and occasionally hokey", and that star Akshay Kumar's "physical humor brings to mind Jim Carrey". John Anderson of Variety wrote, "If Chandni Chowk to China were a person, it would need Valium", and found that "everything is fast and furious, hilarious, hysterical and frantic. Some of the sequences as are quite beautiful and, in the case of the dance numbers featuring Padukone, stunning. But it's the fight ...

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Tags

Movie, Comedy, Kung Fu, Musical, Best Foreign Language Films, Bollywood, Gordon Liu Chiahui, Akshay Kumar

Details

Genre: Comedy
Release Date: January 16, 2009
Runtime: 154 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, People Tree Films
First to Review

"WTF?"
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