Sprawling, flashy, frantic, and loud, Chandni Chowk to China is probably the Bollywood musical comedy/melodrama that will finally crack the international mainstream market. Warner Bros. is backing the film (its first Hindi movie), spent $16 million on Bollywood stars and special effects, and is opening the slapstick epic in 50 countries this week.

Fundamentally, Chandni Chowk is a Horatio Alger story about a goofy street cook (Sidhu, played by Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar) who leaves his stern adoptive father in Chandni Chowk—a poor neighborhood in Delhi—for a wild-goose chase in China. It ends with him studying kung fu and defeating the villain. (No need for a spoiler alert: All of this is painfully obvious within the first 10 of Chandni Chowk's 154 minutes.)

But the film is all digressions and frosting, a pastiche of everything. There's martial-arts action, movie-musical dream sequences, Farrelly-brothers slapstick, and six out of seven standard-issue Hollywood plots: a revenge story, a love story, a reunited-twins story, a bildungsroman, a picaresque, and even a bit of a sex thriller, if you count the assassin trying to kiss Sidhu with her poison lip balm. The only thing Chandni Chowk isn't is a murder mystery.

The film is excessive in every way, but, for all the overwrought emotion and wocka-wocka humor (balls are kicked, noses are slammed in doors), it never feels like too much. The bright, colorful feast leaves you full in a pleasant, mildly overstuffed way, not a so-full-you're-gonna-barf way.

Kumar is charming and radiant as Sidhu, a superstitious sycophant who plays the lottery, visits fortune-tellers, and thinks he sees the Lord Ganesha in a potato. (If an American film played the ethnic stereotypes this broadly, it'd start a firestorm of liberal indignation.)

Thinking he's the reincarnation of a great Chinese warrior, he goes to a small village enslaved by a murderous gangster who deals in stolen antiquities (Gordon Liu). The villagers want Sidhu to kill the boss, and the rest is six plots bobbing and weaving together.

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There's lots of crying—real drooling-and-snotting crying, mostly from the men—and martial-arts special effects and totally unnecessary but unimpeachably fun musical numbers. Plus a rap at the end, with sword-wielding vixens in yellow Kill Bill suits. And, best of all, the setup for a sequel.

Sidhu's going to a lot of places, including the lunch boxes and T-shirts of kids across the world, before he returns to Chandni Chowk. recommended