In the 6th Century, a warrior belonging to the Pallava dynasty travels to China. In China, he helps a rural village to fight both disease and enemies using his knowledge of medicine and martial arts. Later, he establishes the Shaolin temple and becomes famous as Bodhidharman(Suriya). In present day, Chinese government is worried about a genetic research project conducted by Subha(Shruti Haasan). So, they sent an assassin named Dong Lee(Johnny Tri Nguyen) to kill her. Subha is involved with a circus artist Arvind(Suriya). How does this all connect together forms the story.
In the latest directorial venture, A R Murugadoss attempts to tell the importance of science, ancestry and also the evils facing India in a simplified (yet not an oversimplified) way. Although the basic plot has nothing new, Murugadoss weaves his screenplay in an intelligent way to keep the viewers focused. So, the movie starts in 6th century, moves to the present and switches back to the recent past. Using this technique, the audience is hooked at an early stage. Post interval, it is a cat-and-mouse game between Dong Lee and Subha-Arvind combination. Subha and Dong Lee have ulterior motives. Subha's is an easy one to guess. But Dong Lee's is a tougher one to guess. Here is where Murugadoss uses his imagination impressively because it evokes the memories of the Bird Flu outbreak in the recent years. In the second half when the crisis unfolds, the lead characters think analytically. This is a welcome change from the usual emotional outbursts accompanied by irrational behavior. The lead female protagonist is a thinking lady instead of eye-fluttering cutie although it does help to see pick a beautiful woman to play the role. The CG effects used in most of the hand-to-hand fight sequences greatly enhances the thrills. The Bodhidharman fight at the beginning and Arvind-Dong-Lee fight at the end are excellently choreographed. When Arvind and Dong-Lee fights, check out the way their hands move, slowly and clearly, to showcase the martial arts technique. The locations used for the Bodhidharman part of the movie are visually pleasing.
On the flip side, the movie is jingoistic with Tamilian ancestry, references to struggles in Sri Lanka and imminent danger from the behemoth China. The song placements especially Arvind sings and dances during his heartbreak is downright silly. The CG effects and car crashes goes overboard when Arvind and Subha escapes from the hospital. It is clearly an imagination worthy of a kid and the tendency to spend money, both on steroids. What could have been a beautifully choreographed zombie action scene ever seen in an Indian movie falls flat because of the above two factors. You have a municipal worker coming out of the drainage system and also a good looking woman figuratively kicking Arvind's butt after being hypnotized by Dong Lee. But the editing and CG effects takes the fun out of the scene. A lot of dialogues in mid-sentence have been muted out which becomes an irritant at times. As a result, the best on-screen insults, when Subha blasts the committee members end up, as a game of dumb charades. The background music could have better. It could also be conspicuous with it's absence at many places in the movie.
Surya plays both Bodhidharman and Arvind which is a simple role as far as writing is concerned. Yet, he stands out in both of them because of his screen presence and acting. Arvind is a trickier role to play as there are different phases to it - carefree, confused and determined. All three phases are safe with Surya. He easily convinces us and takes us along in the ride. Even in the dance sequences, his smile indicates he is having a ball of a time. Johnny Tri Nguyen as Dong Lee is the perfect foe. We have not seen him before in screen which adds to the curiosity factor. He quickly establishes his role with lack of emotional attachment, movements and fights. Shruti as Subha succeeds to a great extent. It is a difficult role of a researcher determined for results while being concerned about the lack of involvement and commitment seen around her. It is on the highly emotional scenes where she has great difficulty in coordinating the voice, the expressions and the body movements.
With all the shortcomings, this is still a good choice. Go for it.