Making the Grades
Amazing agility and skillful stunts are abundantly evident in Jackie Chan's latest film, The Medallion. Unfortunately a superior script is not.
By the time the film's closing credits start to roll, there are more than a few unanswered questions. First may be why the endearing Chan continues to pair up with sidekick comedians that often provide more distraction to the storyline than assistance. Secondly, how does a hovering helicopter go unnoticed by a street full of policemen parked in the alley below? And just exactly how does that ancient Asian artifact decide when to give life or take it away? Hummmmmm.
Luckily for Eddie Yang (Jackie Chan), a Hong Kong detective working on an international smuggling case, he lands on the life restoring side of the medallion's power.
After the failed theft of the ancient relic and the kidnapping of its young Buddhist protector, Jai (Alex Bao), Eddie follows the would-be robbers to Dublin. Working with Interpol agents Arthur Watson (Lee Evans), a bumbling undercover spy who poses as a librarian, and Nicole James (Claire Forlani), a former love interest, Eddie gets a lead on the child abductor. Known as Snakehead (Julian Sands), the nefarious Irish villain plans to ship the boy to Europe, steal the antique medallion and use it himself.
Discovering the youngster's destination, Eddie attempts to rescue the juvenile from his captors. But the hired hooligans send the Asian officer plunging to a deadly end instead. Later, with the medallion firmly clasped in his hand, Jai lingers over the lifeless body of his rescuer and endows him with supernatural powers of speed, strength and stamina. However, Snakehead's evil intentions for immortality aren't about to be sidetracked, whatever the cost.
Chock full of kicks, punches and flying feet, the movie gives audiences plenty of the martial art magic they have come to expect from the athletic actor. True to form, the action also avoids blood and gore. But the supernatural element of the storyline means the introduction of computer-generated images for some of the fighting sequences--a first for Chan, who is renowned for doing his own stunt work (see http://jc-news.net/news.php?id=70).
With a budget of $41 million according to imdb.com, the film is the most expensive ever made in Hong Kong. However, the attempt to meld traditional Jackie Chan action with Hollywood's fondness for hi-tech special effects doesn't happen without some hitches. Cheesy sound effects and quick one-liners compete with Matrix-like moves and a needless catfight between two female characters. Regrettably, the end result is a flat, often-disjointed story that fails to capture the Chan charm and seems more patched together than Jackie himself.