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The Medallion

  The Medallion
Jackie Chan realizes his invisible broomstick really works.

© 2003, Sony
All Rights Reserved

Eddie Yang (Jackie Chan) is a Hong Kong cop out to stop English gangster Snakehead (Julian Sands, sleeping through this) from stealing a magical medallion which promises eternal life to those that acquire it. Out on the case with his partners Arthur (Lee Evans), and former flame Nicole (Claire Forlani, "Mallrats"), Yang is killed while protecting a mysterious orphan from the wrath of Snakehead. Brought back to life with the help of the medallion, and armed with new supernatural powers, Yang attempts to thwart Snakehead's ultimate goal of world domination.

"The Medallion" (IMDb listing) is a Jackie Chan picture stuck in between his publicly loathed American output and his time-honored work in Hong Kong cinema. Reportedly one of the most expensive films ever produced in Hong Kong, "Medallion" does surprisingly little with its financial advantages. This is a routine, bloated Chan film, similar to last fall's "The Tuxedo," though "Medallion" cannot use the excuse of an American distributor making the production falter. Director Gordon Chan keeps the action out of North America, but the film reeks of Western excess. Most of the high budget has gone to special effects, which taints the reason audiences flock to Jackie Chan movies: to see him perform superhuman moves naturally. The picture is filled with wire-enhanced stunts, poor screen writing (credited to five, count 'em, five screenwriters), and a cast that looks to have been encouraged to make it up as they went along. While it can be argued that there is little subtleness to any Jackie Chan picture, "Medallion" is a good example of Chan's inability to say no to projects that do not suit him (this is his 12th film within the last 5 years). This supernatural comedy doesn't fit his mechanical action set pieces, and director Chan buries the entire movie in such a flurry of edits and effects that nothing comes out appealing to the eye or the mind.

Also, not that anybody would expect there to be, but "Medallion" is lacking serious logic to any plot twist it undertakes. Realized by Hong Kong filmmakers, yet made for Western audiences, "Medallion" tries to appeal to both sides of the world and ends up pleasing no one.

Beloved English comedian Lee Evans, who absolutely killed in the Farrelly Brothers' "There's Something About Mary" as pizza-boy Norm, adds much needed cheerfulness to the feature. While not exactly delivering big laughs, Evans is successful at bringing a playful tone to the mysticism and Chan antics that suck the fun out of the film. Evans doesn't get in on the action, but his jokes match up nicely with Chan's stunts. I was also somewhat amazed to see the normally dour Claire Forlani try to lighten up with a nice turn as a lovelorn cop. This is probably the most agreeable she's ever been onscreen.

While Jackie Chan openly trashes his American output like the "Rush Hour" movies, he willingly sticks himself into homegrown productions that are far beyond their expiration date. "The Medallion" offers little to those that follow Chan's career, except bigger headaches and a huge question as to why Chan continues to squander his talents.

Filmfodder Grade: D+

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