Writer-director-producer-star Jackie Chan flashes his exuberant spirit in CZ12, a mildly diverting, predictably written and earnestly executed action adventure that has all the vibe of being one of his last. Playing the leader of a globetrotting heist team that specialises in priceless artworks and antiques, his character JC starts out as an opportunistic master thief who sells his discoveries to the villains (read: the auction houses) before suddenly finding conscience and patriotism – true story of his life? – during a mission to track down the lost bronze zodiac animal heads looted from the Old Summer Palace in Beijing.
The film does have its moments: the pre-credit getaway in a roller suit and the climactic skydiving mission to save the bronze dragon head are just two of the few. But the overwhelming takeaway impression here is one of its star’s weariness: Chan’s trademark blooper reels, often the most hilarious bits of his movies, are instead replaced by a sentimental voiceover confession that every time he does action he feels like ‘maybe it’s the last shot in my life’. With CZ12, a pedestrian film by any measure aside from its action design, Chan has set the stage to go out respectably as his generation’s pre-eminent martial arts icon. The rest is up to him.
Dir Jackie Chan Category IIA, 125 mins, opens on Thu Dec 20