Maan Karate is nothing but a showcase for Sivakarthikeyan. It is an acknowledgement that the former TV personality is today a bonafide star. And, so, the film comes with all the trappings of a star film — an A-list heroine, a happening music director, no-expenses-spared production budget, introduction song and not to mention, the hype. And, the actor, to his credit manages to carry this film on his shoulders like a pro. He looks slick (even though his character is from Royapuram), makes us laugh with his one-liners and mannerisms, dances very well and even attempts some heavy-duty histrionics.
Which is why it is sad to see his efforts getting wasted in a film that dispenses with any form of logic, and wants us to take it as it is, no questions asked. The story, by director AR Murugadoss, is a mix of fantasy and romance, but Thirukumaran's script is underdeveloped. The film begins with five friends (Sathish and co) meeting a mystic in the forest, who grants their wish — a newspaper from the future! When things start happening as reported in the paper (the IT company in which they work shuts down, hailstones fall in Chennai), they decide that they could use their knowledge of the future to their advantage, and get rich with hardly any effort.
So, they woo Royapuram Peter, a happy-go-lucky (read wastrel) youngster, who is supposed to win a boxing tournament. Their plan is to make Peter take part in the tournament and collect his prize money by making him sign an agreement. Incidentally, Peter falls in love with Yazhini (mainly because she has fair skin, FYI), who loves sports. So, to impress her, he accepts their terms and uses them to pep up his lifestyle. These segments play out in a lighthearted fashion, something that even Ethir Neechal did.
And then the interval twist arrives — there is another Peter, who is taking part in the tournament, who is a feared boxer and is an odds-on favourite (even their father's names are the same!) This seems like an interesting, but you realize that it is also a flaky one when the second half plays out. While we get the initial confusion of the friends who wonder if they have chosen the wrong Peter, it is hard to believe that a news report would fail to mention the juicy details of the final game, especially given the interest the final generates —one of the opponents has sworn to give the audiences live murder in the ring and the other is an overwhelming fan favourite with a unique style that has become his sobriquet — 'Maan Karate' Peter.
Even the romantic track doesn't have any odds stacked against it. Yazhini's dad wants to marry her off only to someone who can recite Thirukkural and that problem is solved in a couple of scenes. Yazhini's love for sports is what prompts Peter to accept the offer to take part in the tournament but towards the end, even she tells that she wouldn't mind if Peter loses.
The boxing portions too are under whelming, both in terms of staging and drama. There is no real sense of a contest in any of the fights, including the final; we can at least accept that 'Maan Karate' Peter's fights are just farcical, but shouldn't there have been a show of real challenge in the ones involving Peter The Killer? A sports movie should have a rousing climax but here, the end just feels tame.
Given that the basic premise of the film itself is weak, and there is generally an 'anything goes' approach to the script, we feel that beneath all the gloss, there is nothing but emptiness.