Chandni Chowk To China Nikhil Advani

Chandni Chowk To China Nikhil Advani
With strands of slapstick, melodrama, pathos, action and music crisscrossing freely during two-and-a-half-hour running times, Bollywood movies sometimes feel like a lengthy performance by a virtuosic one-man band. At their worst they can feel like that same one-man band on a bad night, flailing around amidst a torrent of flop sweat, desperately trying to salvage his act with any piece of showmanship he can muster. Chandni Chowk to China is such a frantic and undisciplined mess that it feels as if the one-man band, having just played "Flight of the Bumblebee" and "Inna Gadda Da Vida" simultaneously, proceeded directly to a high diving act and a few trampoline stunts. Akshay Kumar (India's biggest box office draw and perhaps its answer to Jim Carrey) is deeply irritating as a humble cook from the small Indian village of Chandni Chowk, who is convinced he is the reincarnation of Chinese folk hero Liu Sheung and travels to China to challenge a tyrannical gangster (kung-fu legend Gordon Liu). The film's hyper-paced first half plays like a less funny and more aggressive version of Kung Fu Hustle, with massive quantities of elaborate physical comedy (at one point Kumar flies across town from the impact of a punch) piled together with little rhythm or strategy; it's broad wackiness for the sake of. Things get even drearier in the second half when the tone shifts abruptly to that of an earnest, flat-footed drama that Kumar simply doesn't have the gravitas to pull off. There are few things more depressing than a manic comedy that pauses for emotional resonance it hasn't earned. Chandni Chowk to China was the first Bollywood film to be financed and distributed by an American studio and though a complete failure both artistically and financially, I hope Hollywood doesn't give up the experiment. Even a bad Bollywood movie throws so much at the screen that some of it sticks, whetting the appetite for something better. The DVD is bare bones, aside from several deleted scenes. (Warner)