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The Medallion
2003 - PG-13 - 90 Mins.
Director: Gordon Chan
Producer: Alfred Cheung
Written By: Gordon Chan, Alfred Cheung
Starring: Jackie Chan, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, Lee Evans
Review by: Harrison Cheung
   
Jackie Chan, hot off the successes of his RUSH HOUR and SHANGHAI NOON franchises, must have made THE MEDALLION in a quest for world domination. Clearly, he saw the success of the SPY KIDS movies and decided that he needed to have a children's action movie franchise too. Don't forget that Chan was late to the Hollywood table - a longtime superstar in Asia since his 1979 DRUNKEN MASTER, Chan wasn't a big celebrity in America until 1998's RUSH HOUR. Since then, he's tried Saturday morning cartoons and cautiously made formula sequels (RUSH HOUR 2, SHANGHAI NOON, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS) to maintain his box office success in the English-speaking world.

Ask Arnold or Sly, the key to action hero longevity is to play to the under 14 demographics. So enter Chan in THE MEDALLION which is goofy fun - imagine a Mr. Bean movie crossed with TOMB RAIDER and SPY KIDS. Jackie Chan plays Inspector Eddie Yang, a Hong Kong cop who is trying to save a little boy from evil kidnappers headed by the evil Snakehead, played by much-wasted British actor, Julian Sands (WARLOCK) who was England's answer to William Hurt after his debut in the Merchant Ivory production, A ROOM WITH A VIEW. Remember the Eddie Murphy bomb, THE GOLDEN CHILD? No? Good, writer/director Gordon Chan is counting on that.

From Hong Kong to Dublin, Yang teams up with an old-flame (Claire Forlani) and a fussy English detective (Lee Evans) to rescue the boy and a magic medallion that gives people super powers, invulnerability, and an inconsistent case of immortality.

Though Chan has always played the kung fu hero with the comedic licks of a Charlie Chaplin, THE MEDALLION ends up being more cartoonish than his usual fare. Logic errors abound - if the golden child, errrr, magical medallion can bestow incredible powers, why can Chan leap tall buildings in one scene and yet struggle while dangling on catwalks in another? There's also a bizarre unexplained visual effect about corpses -when you become immortal, you leave your old body behind if you're Jackie Chan, but not if you're someone else. And in a clear case of bad editing, the English detective's wife's secret identity is left unexplained - even when she pops up with enough weaponry to take out Lara Croft. This is a movie that could have done with far fewer special effects because Chan's considerable physical comedy/martial arts talents become secondary to the second rate effects.

That said, Chan knows he does well with odd couple buddy flicks so he's partnered with the very funny Lee Evans (SOMETHING ABOUT MARY) who's like a British version of Al Franken. He's the ultimate British priss, fussing about protocol and initially uneasy with Chan's detective methods. Julian Sands has the thankless role of playing the villain. World domination sounds great with a British accent but I heard a number of folks in the theatre ask, "What has he been doing since ROOM WITH A VIEW?" WARLOCK, I wanted to yell, but I didn't want to out that guilty pleasure.

If you're looking for a grown-up's movie, you'll be disappointed. Hardcore kung fu fans will be annoyed too. But if the entire family enjoyed SPY KIDS or TOMB RAIDER, then THE MEDALLION is a nice introduction to the physical chopsocky humor of Jackie Chan.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

 
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