unning at a scant 85 minutes, Jackie Chan's latest effort
"The Medallion" probably won't please a lot of people. Generally
speaking, it's a slightly average movie, but considering the string of average
films Chan has turned out in recent years, I suppose the lackluster effort here
isn't a surprise.
Chan stars as Eddie Yang, a Hong Kong cop chasing a
notorious international smuggler named Snakehead (Julian Sands), who is seeking
a magical medallion that can grant its owner superhuman powers. The owner of
said medallion is a young boy, one of those Asian Chosen One kids that show up
in movies about magical amulets and evil people searching for immortality.
Snakehead abducts the chosen one and takes him to Dublin, with Eddie in fast
pursuit. In Ireland, Eddie teams up with two Interpol agents: the bumbling
Watson (Lee Evans) and the hottie Nicole (Claire Forlani), with whom Eddie has
"The Medallion's" first 40-minutes is filled with
mundane stunts as Eddie chases down Snakehead's men in Hong Kong. And it's
actually at the 45-minute mark that the film's "medallion gives superhuman
powers to cop" premise even bothers to show up. Here, Eddie sacrifices
himself to save the boy, who in turn brings him back from the dead and grants
him said superhuman powers. Of course being that "The Medallion" is so
ridiculously carefree, Eddie's return from the beyond scares Watson at first,
but soon everyone is in on the secret. And oh yeah, the fact that a dead cop is
not only walking around, but is actually moving at superspeed and seems to be
able to fly, doesn't really seem to bother anyone.
One can imagine that the filmmakers were trying to turn
"The Medallion" into yet another buddy film, the kind that Chan has
scored commercial gold with in the past. Like the "Rush Hour" and "Shanghai"
movies, Chan is paired up with Odious Comic Relief Watson, who is sometimes
funny and sometimes really, really annoying -- just like Chris Tucker and Owen
Wilson. And as another Chan trademark, the women in "The Medallion"
are all high-kickers. Fitting the bill nicely is Forlani ("Meet
Joe Black"), who gets to use her natural accent for the first time in a
movie (she's British, but usually plays American characters in the films that
But Forlani isn't the only one filling the Michelle Yeoh
quotient here. Watson has a Chinese wife (Christy Chung, "Asian
Charlie's Angels") who doesn't know he's an Interpol agent. Watson has
never told her his real occupation and she thinks he's some sort of librarian.
(See "Forced hi-jinks" for an explanation why.) As it turns out,
Watson's wife is also not who she appears, and turns into a fighting machine
later in the film, although how and why isn't actually explained. Also, one of
Snakehead's henchmen is a high-kicking blonde who masquerades as a nurse to get
to the chosen one.
The funniest thing about "The Medallion" is this:
although the premise gives Chan's character superhuman powers, one has to wonder
why, especially since everyone in the film basically defies gravity (sans
superpowers) anyway. Meaning, of course, that wireworks is so extensive as to be
painfully obvious at spots.
An interesting tidbit is that the movie co-stars some
well-known Hong Kong vets. Besides Chung, Anthony Wong ("Beast
Cops") has a lengthy role as one of Snakehead's agents. Unfortunately
it's a thankless role, and the usually serious Wong is made to look very, very
silly in a role that makes him essentially a butler to Sands' villain. The
director, Gordon Chan, is also a Hong Kong industry vet. Here, Chan is forced to
direct comedy, which unfortunately isn't his forte. From the man who gave us
Legend" and "2000
A.D.", "The Medallion" represents a step backwards. Which is
a shame, because the film could have launched Chan into bigger and better
things. As it stands, I'm afraid "The Medallion" won't do Chan any
"The Medallion" doesn't care about making sense,
and although it's not entirely effective, it is funny enough that I laughed more
than I didn't. In a bit of a detour from your usual Jackie Chan fare, the script
makes very explicit mention of Chan's character's past relationship with Claire
Forlani's character. The two even lock lips at the end of the movie, something unthinkable
in past Chan films. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks after all! Of
course it helps that Forlani is in her '30s, which is another departure for
Chan, whose last few female co-stars have become steadily younger and younger as
he's gotten older and older.
But Chan shouldn't fret about "The Medallion's"
lack of success. "Rush Hour 3" is on the schedule, and that series has
proven to be a guaranteed moneymaker. And of course there's also room for
another "Shanghai" movie with Owen Wilson...