Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4
Some critics have been eager to point out in their reviews of "The
Medallion" that, at 49 years old, martial arts superstar Jackie Chan
is getting a little long in the tooth to be performing the same sort
of daring stunts he once did on his own. I beg to differ. In fact,
"The Medallion" gives Chan far more opportunities to strut his stuff
than was evident in his other American features, such as 1998's "Rush
Hour," 2001's "Rush Hour 2," and 2002's "The Tuxedo." The result is
a handful of action set pieces, including a fast-paced chase through
the streets of Dublin, that are more diverting than they have any
right to be. Chan may still have what it takes to perform difficult
stunts, but unfortunately, he is surrounded by a cesspool of ludicrous
plotting, incomprehensible storytelling, and characters about as sturdy as wet cement.
"The Medallion" doesn't make a lick of sense, but bear with me. Jackie
Chan stars as Hong Kong investigator Eddie Yang, hot on the heels
of a baddie called Snakehead (Julian Sands), who in turn is in hot
pursuit of a sacred medallion that gives the possessor superhuman
powers and immortality. Currently in the hands of a young child, Eddie
teams up with two Interpol officersthe wisecracking Arthur Watson
(Lee Evans) and ex-girlfriend Nicole James (Claire Forlani)to protect
the boy and stop Snakehead. However, the pow ers of the medallion
have unforeseen consequences on Eddie when it saves his life.
Directed by Gordon Chan, "The Medallion" is the kind of movie fantasy
that, instead of laying down ground rules from the start and following
them, makes up its own set of rules as it goes, based on whatever
is convenient to the plot at any given time. Trying to make heads
or tails out of any of it will only leave the viewer with a headache,
as it is doubtful even the filmmakers could explain their way out
of some of the film's more heinously sloppy twists and inane developments.
For reasons unknown, every action sceneand then someare inappropriately
scored with music that would be more at home in a Saturday morning cartoon.
Jackie Chan is a talented stuntman, but he will never be accused of
being a first-rate thespian. As Eddie Yang, Chan plays the same type
of character he always plays, with the exception of a slightly differing,
more klutzy persona in "The Tuxedo." Speaking of which, the less-than-a-year-old
"The Tuxedo" had a remarkably similar premise, but was notably more
charming in any scene he shared with co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt
than is the case with this film's female companion Claire Forlani
(2000's "Boys and Girls"). The eternally wistful Forlani, who has
shown spunk in the past, wastes her time here in a one-dimensional
part that does her no favors. At least she doesn't grate on the nerves,
which is exactly what the unctuous, over-the-top Lee Evans (2000's "The Ladies Man") does.
Just to prove how aimless and problem-ridden "The Medallion" is, the
narrative stops cold at the 30-minute mark to offer up the most unnecessary
extended montage se quence in recent memory, set to The Beatles' "Twist
and Shout." You literally feel embarrassed for the actors as you watch
the disaster of it all occurring before your very eyes on the screen.
While the rest of "The Medallion" never comes close to sinking to
such cringe-inducing depths again, it also never gives you a valid
reason for existing in the first place. When the outtakes over the
end creditsa sign of desperation in any movieare infinitely more funny
and joyous that anything that preceded them, you know you're in trouble.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman