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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
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   Medallion, The  



 

The Medallion

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Director: Gordon Chan
Writing Credits: Alfred Cheung, Bennett Davlin, Gordon Chan, Paul Wheeler, Bey Logan
Cast: Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Christy Chung
Genre: Comedy Action
Country: Hong Kong
Language: English
Year Released: 2003
Runtime: 88 min
Rating: * (out of four stars)

Jackie Chan films used to be characterized by several things – him performing insanely dangerous stunts (and during the end credits we’d usually some footage of Chan being injured in some grave manner), the lack of CGI and wirework, and a goofy sense of comedy that usually involves Chan grinning good-naturedly away. Since his transition to Hollywood, however, we’ve begun to see less and less of Chan’s trademarks in his films. Last year saw the release of the very mediocre The Tuxedo, and Chan follows the trend this year with the even more lackluster The Medallion (originally called Highbinders till a Fengshui master recommended the name change). Maybe it’s Chan’s age, or maybe Hollywood just doesn’t buy into Chan’s trademark movie style, or perhaps it’s just that Chan is just another superstar that’s gone into decline.

The story begins in Hong Kong, where local cop Eddie Yang (Jackie Chan) is assisting an Interpol task force, led by the terminally inept Arthur Watson (Lee Evans), with the capture of a crime lord called Snakehead (no, really. Played by Julian Sands). Turns out that Snakehead is after a little boy (Alexander Bao) who seems to be endowed with special powers that can help bind two halves of a medallion together, and when the boy’s powers combine with that of the medallion’s, it can grant any human invincibility and immortality. Eddie and Watson foil Snakehead’s initial attempt, but this doesn’t stop the child from finally being kidnapped and brought to Dublin.

Eddie follows the trail to Ireland, where his old flame and fellow policewoman Nicole James (Claire Forlani) joins Eddie and Watson’s search for the boy. Unfortunately, Eddie dies during the boy’s rescue, but is brought back to life with the aid of the medallion’s power. Now blessed with superhuman powers and an inability to die, Eddie should have no trouble tracking down the bad guys – but when have bad guys ever been that easy to stop?

Action films don’t necessarily need a good plot, but The Medallion’s script, which gives credit to five(!) writers, is particularly poor and riddled with holes. Perhaps part of this is due to editing – the film was cut down from a rumored 120 minutes to a film that’s less than 90 minutes, and there is a distinct lack of flow from scene to scene. For example, an action scene cuts suddenly to an inane dinner, replete with cheesy dance sequence that has almost zero bearing on the film’s plot. The medallion and the boy is also left aside for almost a full reel, whilst the film dawdles in other unimportant aspects. Director Gordon Chan also makes a mess of most of the fight sequences, botching the scenes with too many extreme close ups, overly rapid editing, and an obvious use of wires. Despite the action choreographer being Sammo Hung, almost every fight scene lacks the finesse found in the best of HK action films. Only one action sequence, where Chan gives chase to a thug through the streets of Dublin, manage to showcase Chan’s physical abilities well.

The B-ness of The Medallion is exacerbated by a lack of any good performances in the film. Jackie Chan is still rather charismatic, but Claire Forlani does nothing interesting as the female love interest, and Lee Evans is portrayed to be so inept and so caricatured that his character is impossible to take for real. Even worse, as this is a Hong Kong-USA collaboration, the producers deemed fit to include some HK stars in horribly frivolous cameos – Nicholas Tse and Edison Chan as waiters! Anthony Wong as a hammy henchman! What’s even worse is that these scenes involving the Chinese actors all seem to be filmed in Cantonese, then dubbed over with English, adding another layer of surreal badness to the film. Surely, this can’t be how Jackie Chan envisioned his Hollywood career to be – when the end credits sequence features him flubbing his lines and other "hilarious" outtakes, you know that he has finally gone past his prime.

Final Word: Unexciting, uninvolving, and unfunny, the only thing to thank for is that The Medallion has a mercifully short running time.