×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ek Tha Tiger

This spy thriller-romance mixes and matches genre conventions with varying degrees of success.

With:
With: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Shorey, Girish Karnad, Roshan Seth.

Mixing and matching genre conventions with varying degrees of success, “Ek Tha Tiger” is a spy thriller-romance featuring a pair of kickass agents (a la “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) who belong to opposite sides of the Indian/Pakistani divide until love turns them both rogue, setting their respective agencies in murderous pursuit (shades of the Bourne movies). Result boasts some excellent action sequences, most performed by megastar Salman Khan, and indeed is generally more effective in fight scenes than in hearts-and-flowers mode. Though Kabir Khan’s film broke B.O. records on its Aug. 15 Independence Day weekend release, crossover success looks unlikely.

The plot casts Khan as superspy Tiger. An exciting prologue, set among the winding streets, bazaars and rooftops of an Iraqi village, finds Tiger handily defeating a bunch of assassins on his tail. From there the action moves to Dublin, where exchanges with his boss (Girish Karnad) reveal Tiger as a dedicated, most un-Bond-like spy who couldn’t care less about wine, women or luxury vacations.

Thus, when Tiger falls hard for sexy dance student Zoya (Katrina Kaif), he can muster no defense. Disguised as a dorky writer, Tiger alternates between lovestruck mooniness, learning dating dos and don’ts from fellow agent Gopi (Ranveer Shorey), and high-octane heroism, stopping a runaway tram with just his jacket, which he then dons en route to meet his lady love. This Clark Kent/Superman-style back-and-forth lasts almost until intermission, when Tiger discovers Zoya’s true colors as a covert op.

In the second act, the lovers reunite in Istanbul and finally flee to Havana, mowing down pursuers separately or in tandem. Helmer Khan makes excellent use of exotic locales for his breathless setpiece chases and somewhat cliched use of regional cultural motifs for his song-accompanied, multiple-costumed romantic montages.

The Yash Raj studio, in choosing a director habitually associated with serious subjects, no doubt hoped to add class and significance to the usual Salman Khan testosterone sprees. Certainly the filmmaker brings a degree of realism to the melees: Tiger dispatches murderous villains one by one with satisfying ingenuity, rather than sending several flying simultaneously. The truly ridiculous is reserved for key moments only. The helmer also imposes a more unified vision on the ensemble, opting for situational humor instead of relying on second-string buffoons.

Kaif displays some impressive moves in her action-heroine debut, while Salman Khan’s thinking-on-his-feet immediacy adds depth to his usual macho muscle. Local auds will no doubt derive a special thrill from the onscreen reunion of stars Khan and Kaif, once an offscreen item.

Slickly produced “Tiger” profits greatly from Aseem Mishra’s gorgeous location lensing.

Popular on Variety

Ek Tha Tiger

India

Production: A Yash Raj Films release and production. Produced by Aditya Chopra. Executive producer, Aashish Singh. Directed by Kabir Khan. Screenplay, Khan, Neelesh Misra; story, Aditya Chopra.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Aseem Mishra; editor, Rameshwar S. Bhagat; music, Julius Packiam, Sohail Sen, Sajid-Wajid; lyrics, Kausar Muni, Neelesh Misra, Anvita Dutt; production designers, Sukant Panigrahy, John Hand, Melih Borogan, Carlos Urdanivia, Worapol Dhanashoti; costume designers, Alvira Khan, Ashley Rebello, Arun Chauhan, Anoushka Veljee; sound (Dolby Digital), Debasish Mishra, Dwarak Warrier; action director, Markos Routhwaite; choreographers, Vaibhavi Merchant, Ahmed Khan; visual effects supervisor, Vishal Anand; casting, Shanoo Sharma. Reviewed at Big Cinema, New York, Aug. 15, 2012. Running time: 132 MIN. (I: 66 MIN.; II: 66 MIN.)

With: With: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Ranveer Shorey, Girish Karnad, Roshan Seth.

More Film

  • Inside an Inox Leisure multiplex in

    India's Inox Multiplex Chain Reveals Ambitious Growth Plans

    Indian multiplex chain Inox Leisure has revealed ambitious plans to more than double its existing screen capacity of 600. The company is planning to add 900 more screens across the country over the next decade. “That’s the realistic answer, but my desire is to do it over the next five years,” Siddharth Jain, director, Inox [...]

  • Joker

    Why 'Joker' Is About All of Us (Column)

    Take a look at the photo above. It’s the most poetic image to have emerged from Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” and the reason I say “poetic” isn’t just because the shot has that caught-in-action indelible vibe of a quintessential movie poster: graphic, hauntingly composed, a bit shocking (at least, the first time you see it). It’s [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Rules International Box Office With $117 Million

    Though Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” stumbled at the domestic box office, the Angelina Jolie-led sequel enjoyed a far stronger start overseas. The follow-up to 2014’s fantasy adventure inspired by the “Sleeping Beauty” villain took off with $117 million from 56 international markets. In North America, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted with a meager $36 [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • Film Republic Adds Further Sales for

    Film Republic Inks Further Deals for 'God of the Piano' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sales agent Film Republic has closed further territory sales on “God of the Piano.” Film Movement previously picked up North American rights to the film, as reported exclusively by Variety. Mont Blanc Cinema has taken the rights for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Limelight Distribution is looking after the Australian and New Zealand releases, Hualu [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content