Jackie Chan bobble doll is much more entertaining than most
of the flat, boring "The Medallion." But we still
think Jackie is the man.
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
(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
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
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.