Jackie Chan’s Chinese Zodiac – AKA Armour Of God III – AKA My Eyes…My Eyes!

jackie chan action star

Your top ten Jackie Chan movies, go…

Okay, what did you have? Police Story? Project A? Drunken Master? Maybe you went with his American output and have Shanghai Noon or Rush Hour on your list? Perhaps Kung Fu Panda was more to your taste? If you’re a true Jackie Chan aficionado, then I’m 99.999999% certain that you have The Armour of God down as one of the best.


The Armour of God (1987)

The_Armour_of_God jackie chan

The Armour of God is a Hong Kong martial arts/action spectacular in which Chan played Jackie (yup, Jackie) aka The Asian Hawk, a modern day (modern day for the late 80’s) Indiana Jones. The film featured amazing fight sequences and mind numbing stunts. In fact, one of the stunts was literally mind numbing, in which a branch broke when Jackie jumped from a wall to a tree, causing him to plummet to the ground, smashing his head off a rock. Surgery saved him and he now sports a hole where a piece of skull broke off, as UK presenter Jonathan Ross confirmed when he interviewed Chan on the set of Miracles, feeling the hole left at the back of his head, when he hosted a show called Son of The Incredibly Strange Film Show back in the late 1980’s.

The film did so well that it spawned a sequel, The Armour of God II: Operation Condor.


The Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991)

armour of god II operation condor

This follow-up had the franchise getting more and more like Indiana Jones as it had, well, it had Nazis and a desert setting. More epic in scale than the first film, it was, at the time, the most expensive Hong Kong movie ever made. However, although it gathered mostly positive reviews, I simply didn’t like it.

Yes, the setting is lush with some decent fight scenes, but, as a whole, it just didn’t cut it for me for some reason, I found it lacking somewhat.

However, about a year ago I caught wind of a second sequel, as much as I loved the first film and “meh” the second, a third movie in the series had me fired up and, when the trailer hit, I HAD to see it. The trailer had me pumped.

This was, for me, the one that would set the franchise straight and bring Jackie Chan right back to the limelight he so richly deserves and establish The Asian Hawk as a legitimate movie hero.


Chinese Zodiac (2012)

Chinese-Zodiac-armour of god III

Chinese Zodiac aka CZ12 aka The Armour of God III is a sort of pseudo-reboot (cool buzzword I picked up off the interweb when doing a bit of background research) of The Armour of God series. He plays The Asian Hawk character again, except he doesn’t…

Let me try to qualify that. Jackie plays The Asian Hawk, but, as far as I am aware he wasn’t referred to as that in the film (he is known as JC in the movie – see what they did there?), however he is still a treasure hunter/adventurer, but one that uses high tech equipment – which is out of character and quite a bit different to the rough and ready hero of the previous films. For example, one scene has Chan put on a pair of gloves which scans whatever he touches (in this case the bronze heads), and sends the image back to the lab for the processing of fake heads. This is more Ethan Hunt than Asian Hawk…

Chinese Zodiac bronze heads

The film centres around 12 bronze statue heads which were looted from the Yuan Ming Yuan (Old Summer Palace) by the French and British during the Second Opium War in the mid-1800’s. Scrub forwards to the present day, where some of the bronze heads are being auctioned off and Chan is charged with finding the missing heads with the promise of a huge payday.

So far so good right? You get a potted history of some stolen national treasures, a corporation wanting these heads and the beginnings of a swashbuckling high adventure. Sadly, what you don’t get is fun. It pains me to say it but Chinese Zodiac is lame!

I really wanted to like this film, I wish I could be writing about how great and amazing the experience was, give it 5/5 and tell you to beg, steal or borrow money (perhaps a combination of all three) to see this film, but I can’t. I really can’t.

This movie is a turd!

Chinese Zodiac Jackie Chan

The film features a spectacularly misguided body blading scene with Chan donning a skate suit made famous by inventor Jean-Yves Blondeau aka Rollerman. If I was ten years old or never seen any other film before, then maybe, just maybe, this sequence would have blown my mind and have me giddy with excitement, however, as an adult it was just tired, dull and a bit embarrassing.

The bad news doesn’t stop there, no ma’am, it continues apace with slapstick pirates and comedy bad guys, a jungle set piece more suited to a kid’s television show, a horrible dog chase through a labyrinth scene, a distinct dearth of fight scenes and Oliver Platt.

Yes, I know that you don’t go to a typical Jackie Chan film expecting high art, but I do expect awe inducing stunts, amazingly acrobatic and inventive fights and comedy which takes its cues from Chaplin and Keaton. In CZ12, you get none of these things. In the trailer, I had huge hopes for a fight scene in which Chan’s opponent declares that he can beat him without having to leave his chair. It turned out to be both childish and cringingly bad.

Viewers are also subjected to a very obvious and “In your face” message about returning historical artefacts, which, to be honest, doesn’t sit well with the film (even if it was any good) and certainly isn’t to be discussed in an action/adventure movie.

I cannot begin to express just how disappointed I was in this film which has garnered some pretty damning reviews in the press.

The South China Morning Post said that:

“CZ12 is like watching a former star athlete struggle in a meaningless game”

And that is exactly how it felt watching it.


The Man, the Myth, the Legend…

Jackie Chan Hand Prints Hong Kong

I grew up on Chan films, I was a member of the Jackie Chan Fan Club, I stuck my mitts in his hand prints on the Avenue of Stars on the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade in Hong Kong, I even, as a kid, found ways to defend his less celebrated movies (oh come on, I was in the midst of developing my critical eye). However, I am failing to find something remotely good about CZ12 apart from the fact that Chan earned two Guinness World Records with this film – “Most Stunts performed by a Living Actor” and “Most Credits in One Movie”.

Despite the negativity, I have not written Chan off, not by a long shot, there’s the forthcoming Police Story 2013 (I love Police Story, Police Story II and New Police Story) to look forwards to, a possible Rush Hour 4, a role in The Expendables III, and a sequel to the surprisingly enjoyable The Karate Kid.

I would say that CZ12 is probably only for the Jackie Chan completest. Then again, I’m a Jackie Chan completest and even sat through rubbish like The Tuxedo and Magnificent Bodyguards (the latter only marginally saved because it features the music from Star Wars), but I don’t ever want to see Jackie Chan, my childhood hero, in a film as bad as this again.

With a very heavy heart, we give this movie 1 out of 5 Nerds

nerd like you nerds 1


Image source: Jackie Chan, Armour of God, Armour of God II, Chinese Zodiac, CZ 2, CZ3, Hand Prints

David Cheng

I am an ex-lab scientist (though not of the evil kind, much) and currently (serious hat on) work as a test engineer on scanning systems for use in histopathology and cytogenetics. In my spare time (propellor hat on) I nerd out on video games, apps, movies, television, comic books, regular books, tech and martial arts. I am also (spouse hat on) happily married to my beautiful wife Jing.

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