Writer: Ng Suzhen
Overall: 4.5 Out of 5
Cast: 4.0 Out of 5
Plot: 4.5 Out of 5
Effects: 4.0 Out of 5
Cinematography: 4.0 Out of 5
Watch this if you liked: Every Jackie Chan movie
The great legend that is Jackie Chan is encompassed in this movie called "CZ12".
State of the art gadgets, well-planned missions, as well as a stellar cast who can all hold their own, Chan has succeeded in putting together a movie that earns its status as Chan's big bang out of the action movie scene, assuming that it really is his last.
Meticulous care has been put into the film which Chan has taken great pains to make as a tribute to his fans and probably for himself. "CZ12" ties up Chan's roots in the Hong Kong film industry, his international success as well as fragments of his personal life all in one go.
Audiences may have been at first put off by the 12 zodiac sculptures in the trailers, which truth be told, looks absolutely uninteresting, maybe even waving it off as another hype-filled last effort by Jackie Chan. In fact, the truth cannot be further.
The movie has a well structured plot that takes you through an adventure which brilliantly enough, combines the new with the familiar. Remember the "Amour of God" series? Well, "CZ12" takes after the story format, even naming itself as a sequel to the last in the series, released in 1991. Those who are familiar with the original stories would know to expect some treasure hunting, bickering female leads in the form of one Asian and one Caucasian, and a 'gwai lo' opponent who is just as good in martial arts as Chan himself.
This time however, Chan manages to inject new elements with added dimensions, keeping the audience glued to the screen with full effect. The villain is not exactly two-dimensional and all his sidekicks get their chance to shine on-screen. The plot, which also touches on art forgery, is well-researched and solid. The stunts, needless to say, is classic Jackie Chan with a very exciting roller-blade chase down the hill in the form of a wheel-suit at the beginning of the movie.
A big kudos to the man who did not bank on his status as a world famous action star to slide through his duties as actor/director/producer/ co-writer / action choreographer. There is no doubt at all that the man knows what his fans want.
Characters cast alongside him are able to hold their own with good balance, even when sharing the screen with the action superstar. Korean heartthrob, Kwon Sangwoo, who plays Simon, the right-hand man to Chan's JC, impresses with his action scenes while newbie Zhang Lanxin plays it like a veteran in an action movie. Both also play husband and wife who are giving each other the cold shoulder. No explanation is given to the reason but you don't really mind as their family problem is not what we are here for.
Another surprising cast, who would be totally unfamiliar to the Chinese audience but may hold water with Hollywood movie enthusiasts, is Oliver Platt with a role as the boss of an antique-trading company who hires JC and his team to steal the zodiac sculptures. Audiences might remember the actor as the head of Division X in "X-Men: First Class" who falls to his death from the sky thanks to the teleporting Azazel.
Littered with cameos, keep an eye out especially for Jonathan Lee, who holds the same status as Chan in the Taiwanese music scene. His turn as a slippery middle-man is surprisingly convincing.
Weirdly enough, the movie is all about Chan, yet at the same time, you do get the sense that it's not about him. Audiences can tell how personal the movie is for Chan, with the end credits featuring not only bloopers but also very short glimpses of Wang Leehom (whom he once declared would love to have him as a son) and his son Jaycee, who both contributes to the soundtrack of the movie. Chan's wife also appears briefly at the end of the movie, whom he reportedly took a lot of effort into coaxing her into doing so.
Not to be missed as well is the heartfelt thanks in the form of a voice message from the movie legend to his fans in the end credits.
For Chan's supposed last hurrah, "CZ12" is definitely classic Jackie Chan worthy of every single one of his long-time fans.
Cinema Online, 17 December 2012