Aliens and kung fu, what’s not to love right? We’ve had Cowboys and Aliens before though and I’m sure we remember how that turned out, will this be any different?
Kung Fu Traveler stars Tiger Hu Chen (best known from his stunt work on The Matrix films and Uma Thurman’s stunt double) as Jie, an army general in the future.
It’s a time when aliens have invaded planet Earth and taken over, only a few humans remain and they’ve found that Kung Fu, in particular Southern Kung Fu, can defeat the aliens in close combat.
However, Jie isn’t proficient enough to teach everyone and so they create a robot in his image and send it 200 years in the past to find a Southern Kung Fu master to learn from. They can then use the learnings of the robot and implant them into all other robots and defeat the aliens.
The aliens however, manage to learn of this ploy and send their own alien back in time to stop the robot from learning Kung Fu. Will he succeed, can he learn in time, will we care…
As a lover of Kung Fu movies and aliens and robots this movie ticked an awful lot of boxes before going in to see it. Tiger Hu Chen is also a bit of a legend and hasn’t had many starring roles to date.
Let’s start with the CGI which is probably kindly described as bad video game level. Think PS1 cut-screens and you aren’t far off, in some instances it’s not even that good.
Then there’s the story. At just one hour 38 minutes the film should zip by in a blur of kung fu and aliens but, sadly, it doesn’t. Somehow director Xian Feng Zhang manages to make Kung Fu Traveler boring.
I know, shocking right? The movie plods along, never really going anywhere. Characters are as thin as the paper their written on and dialogue is as cheesy as a fondue set.
Why, for instance, would you not send someone back in time with your big, new, flashy guns to destroy the aliens when they first arrived? Instead of 200 years in the past to learn Kung Fu?
All this wouldn’t usually matter if the action was good enough to hide it all, but it’s not. Zhang is stylistic to the point of annoying, cutting roughly and quickly and making no attempts to hide the very obvious wire-work.
I don’t know what the budget was for Kung Fu Traveler (also known as Kung Fu Cyborg) but it wasn’t enough, I’m not sure it could ever be enough.
All this is before we’ve even got to the part about how they are going to get the Southern Kung Fu data from 200 years in the past to the future. Good grief, they may as well have used one of those fake stones your gran uses for her spare key!
What should have been a fabulously entertaining movie is in fact a cheap and tacky film with all the enjoyment level of having your finger nails pulled out.