Chinese Zodiac is a 2012 Hong Kong action-comedy film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred as the main character in the film. The film is the third movie of a franchise that began with Armour of God (1986) and its sequel, Armour of God II: Operation Condor (1991).
Released in December 2012, the film went on to gross over US$145 million at the Chinese box office and US$171 million worldwide. Chan also earned two Guinness World Records with the film for "Most Stunts Performed by a Living Actor" and "Most Credits in One Movie".
The film won Best Action Choreography for Chan at the 32nd Hong Kong Film Awards.
The movie begins with the story of the Old Summer Palace and its looting and destruction by British and French soldiers in the Second Opium War. Among the treasures stolen are twelve bronze heads of the animals of the Chinese zodiac.
In the present day, the bronze heads are auctioned for millions of euros each. The main company supplying the bronze heads and other stolen relics is MP Corporation. JC (Jackie Chan) is tasked by MP Corp to find the remaining lost bronze heads, with a promise of a 10x bonus if he can recover all of them. JC visits Professor Guan, who had created 12 identical replicas for study purposes with his team of researchers, under the guise of a reporter named Martin from National Geographic. When left alone, JC scans the multiple bronze Zodiac animal heads using special gloves so that his secret organization can replicate an extremely realistic model of them. After scanning, he goes to Paris to find a woman named Coco, recommended by Guan, for more information on the whereabouts of two bronze heads.
JC, along with his partners Simon (Kwon Sang-woo), David, and Bonnie, infiltrate a mansion to find two of the bronze heads. JC manages to decode the password to a top-secret vault and finds two bronze heads, a painting called "The Roses," along with many other valuable national treasures thought to be lost inside. JC's cover is soon busted but he manages to evade capture with all the valuables. However, he is spotted by Coco. Having no time to explain himself, he tells Coco to meet him at a boathouse while fleeing from the mansion's security. At the boathouse, Martin tells Coco that he is working for a secret corporation that is trying to recover all the lost relics for China. The guards from the mansion storm the boathouse and try to attack JC. However, the police are called in and they are all arrested. JC, Coco, and Simon are cleared of any wrongdoing and are released.
Coco, JC, and his team are invited to a castle owned by a lady named Catherine (Laura Weissbecker), unaware that the guards from the mansion are tailing them out of suspicion. It turns out that the captain of the "Indestructible", one of the ships involved in the destruction and looting of the Old Summer Palace, is Catherine's great-great-grandfather. This upsets Coco, who confronts Catherine on the issue. JC and his team find many valuable treasures in the castle, including the Bronze head of the Rooster, and hatch a series of plans to ferry them out. JC promises Catherine that he will help her locate her great-great-grandfather's remains.
The next day, they venture out in search of the Indestructible's treasures, located on a seemingly uninhabited island. JC instructs Coco and Catherine to stay behind while his team explores the island. However, Coco and Catherine disobey JC's orders to look for Catherine's great-great-grandfather's corpse on their own. They get entangled among the vines, forcing JC to rescue them. While exhuming the great-great grandfather's remains, the group accidentally discovers the remains of the Indestructible, several more bronze heads, and a large quantity of gold. As they prepare to leave with all the artifacts, they are confronted by the guards from the mansion. In turn, the island's local inhabitants, a group of pirates, appear and promptly capture all of them. JC and his team fight their way through to escape the island via a log set up with a pulley system, leaving the five guards with the pirates.
Once on the yacht, Coco accidentally discovers the real motive of JC's ventures and confronts him. Subsequently, the log carrying approximately eight tonnes of gold sinks. Nevertheless, JC and his team still get rewarded for recovering some of the lost bronze heads. The group is enraged when they find out that the supposedly missing Dragon bronze head was already at the hands of MP Corp all along, thereby making it impossible to claim the large bonus.
Meanwhile, Coco and her fellow students' protests over the sale of the national treasures escalate quickly and capture worldwide attention. As Coco's students try to find out more about MP Corp, three of them, including Coco's younger brother, are captured. After Coco asks JC for help, JC contacts MP Corp on the availability of "The Roses" artifact and is allowed into the secret premises. Having toured the entire factory where almost exact duplicates of the relics are made to be sold as real relics in auctions, JC deduces the location of the captives. He challenges a long-time rival who happens to be there as well – the unscrupulous treasure hunter, Vulture, to a fight but it ends in a stalemate. JC bargains with MP Corp to sell "The Roses" painting at a reduced price and secure the release of the three hostages. When MP Corp refuses, JC fights his way to the chamber. During the ensuing fight, a furnace explodes due to a guard's baton rupturing one of the pipes, destroying most of the facility. JC then settles for the release of the three hostages in exchange for the painting and not paying damages done to the premises.
Meanwhile, the Dragon bronze head is expected to fetch the highest price in the auction but no one bids for it due to increasing pressure from activist groups. MP Corp, in a bid to teach these groups a lesson, threatens to throw the relic into an active volcano, calling the mission "Let the Dragon Fly," if no bids are received by noon the next day. The deadline passes without a single bid and Vulture leads a group of three skydivers to throw the relic into the volcano. JC intervenes to save the relic from dropping into the volcano and is severely injured in the ensuing airborne struggle. As a mark of respect, Vulture hands over the relic to a sprawled JC. MP Corp's owners are arrested on possession of "The Roses" painting. JC is seen recovering in a hospital and on good terms with everyone, including Vulture. The movie ends with JC kissing his wife, who visits him in the hospital.