AUGUST 21, 2003
Dumb Screenplay, Stupid Supporting Cast and Idiotic Premise Sink Chan in 'The Medallion'
By Jeremy Mathews
The Jackie Chan bobble doll is much more entertaining than most of the flat, boring "The Medallion." But we still think Jackie is the man.  

“The Medallion”
Screen Gems
Directed by Gordon Chan
Written by Bey Logan, Gordon Chan, Alfred Cheung, Bennett Joshua Davlin and Paul Wheeler
Produced by Alfred Cheung
Starring Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, John Rhys-Davies, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Christy Chung and Johann Myers
Rated PG-13
(out of four)

The appeal of Jackie Chan is that he doesn’t have super powers. His characters succeed through a combination of athletics, acrobatics and an ingenious use of props. So when “The Medallion” kills Chan at the end of the first act and brings him back to life as a strong and fast immortal with inhuman hang time, it kind of kills the excitement.

Oh, but if that were the only thing that killed the excitement.

Even if this review and the ads didn’t reveal that Chan comes back as an immortal, it would be painfully obvious. No filmmakers in their right minds would strand the audience with the movie’s lifeless supporting characters for more than an hour.

Maybe Owen Wilson spoiled us in “Shanghai Noon,” but so bad is the screenplay (by what looks like 80 writers in the screen credit) that the supporting cast, which is supposed to cover for Chan’s less-than-excellent English, either mechanically recites or heavily overacts.

Chan’s character, a Hong Kong police officer named Eddie Yang, helps Watson (Lee Evans), a British Interpol agent, track down a no-good smuggler named Snakehead (Julian Sands). Claire Forlani plays Nicole, an agent (and Eddie’s old fling) working in Dublin, where Watson and Eddie go once Snakehead leaves Hong Kong.

In what I can only assume is screenplay-inspired desperation, Evans spends most of his time flailing around, knocking stuff over or shouting. Watson is meant to be a lovable, annoying buffoon, but is in no way lovable. Forlani, who has no chemistry with Chan, doesn’t seem to be trying with her character’s lame dialogue and painfully standard traits.

Chan, on the other hand, is always likable as the ultimate nice guy, making the audience want to like the movie, although the film consistently betrays this instinct by embodying none of Chan’s joy. While there’s a fun chase scene and Chan maintains his reluctance to use guns, the film’s climax lacks the lively nature of Chan’s best film, and leaves not a “wow,” but the question, “I sat through the whole film and that’s it?”

Snakehead’s mischief lies in kidnapping a Buddhist boy who possesses a special power that only one boy possesses every 1,000 years. The power is to combine two halves of a sacred medallion and then bring dead people back to life—forever, and with special powers. Snakehead wants the boy to do this to him, presumably for global-takeover purposes.

The film rarely lets Eddie do anything interesting with his special powers. In one scene, Eddie actually decides to lure two or three members of an ambush team into the forest by running past them so fast that all they see is a blur. Quick question: If Eddie has these powers that disorient his opponents and put him in no danger, why does he leave his mortal friends to duke it out with the other ambushing men when he could easily kick all their asses?

There are several breaches of logic that are entirely unforgivable because the logical elements would actually make for a more interesting movie. The job of a film this silly is to give the audience members enough fun to go along with it, not leave them hitting their heads.

It’s nothing but frustrating to watch the filmmakers waste the resource that is Jackie Chan. One of the fun parts of Chan films is that most of the time you know he’s doing most of his own stunts. Here, while still obviously in fine shape, he flies through the air with what are obviously computer generated graphics, even before receiving his powers.

So few are the great stunts that the outtakes—traditionally taken up with failed stunts that sometimes led to Chan being taken away in an ambulance—are 75 percent flubbed lines and giggles.


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