"Chandni Chowk to China" (PG-13)
1 star out of 4
It's hard to fathom how the country of India can crank out more than 900 feature films per year. That's nearly twice as many as the U.S. produces annually.
American movies - even the bad ones - are popular all over the world, even in India. Why is it that Indian films don't translate? Watch just five minutes of this movie and that mystery is solved.
"Chandni Chowk to China" is slightly different than most other "Bollywood" productions as it's set part-time in China and features lots of dizzying martial arts sequences along with the usual cheesy song-and-dance numbers. Rarely have two such shallow, underachieving genres been blended together in one film, and hopefully it won't ever happen again.
Clocking in at an excruciating 154 minutes, it is too long by at least half, which only further points out its wealth of narrative shortcomings.
Chandni Chowk is a marketplace area in Delhi where Sidhu (Akshay Kumar) works seemingly all day and night as a cook. Looking like Borat with a ponytail, Sidhu is desperate for a diversion, and after finding a potato with what he perceives to be the image of an ancient Chinese warrior on it, decides to head to the Orient.
At the same time, TV infomercial pitchwoman Sakhi (Deepika Padukone) is headed in the same direction in an attempt to reunite with her long-lost father and twin sister Meow Meow (also played by Padukone). As it turns out, Meow Meow was raised by Hojo (Gordon Liu), a crime boss who takes out his enemies with a bowler hat, exactly like Oddjob in "Goldfinger."
In a manner akin to Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Jim Carrey, Kumar displays some decent physical comedy moves, both in dance and in battle and, along with Padukone's considerable eye candy, are the only reasons anyone would want to subject themselves to this sad excuse of a movie.
This isn't the first time a major American studio has taken a chance with an Indian film, and Warner Brothers wants everyone to know "Chandi" is receiving the largest U.S. distribution of any movie like it to date. With its inclusion of largely bloodless fight scenes and the presence of the legendary Liu in the cast, there is a remote chance Kung Fu fanatics might want to check it out.
But even with them and the miniscule U.S. "Bollywood" base, it's unlikely the movie will make a dent at the domestic box office.
Presented in Hindi and Chinese with English subtitles. (Warner Brothers)