The Medallion

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Cast:
Jackie Chan as Eddie Yang
Lee Evans as Arthur Watson
Claire Forlani as Nicole James
Julian Sands as Snakehead
John Rhys-Davies as Cmdr. Hammerstock-Smythe
Anthony Wong Chau-Sang as Lester
Christy Chung as Charlotte Watson
Johann Myers as Giscard
Alex Bao as Jai

Summary:
“The Medallion” is not one of Jackie Chan’s better movies. A convoluted plot and light action make it a disappointment for Chan fans but fun for kids.

Story:
Eddie Yang is a Hong Kong policeman working with Interpol agents led by Aurthur Watson. They are trying to capture an international crime lord by the name of Snakehead. Little do they know that his latest criminal scheme is to kidnap a boy and steal a mystical medallion. Legend states that the boy and the medallion have the power to bring the dead back to life and grant them immortality and superpowers. Snakehead intends to gain those powers for himself.

When Snakehead’s goons kidnap the boy, Yang follows their trail back to Ireland. There he must team up with Interpol agent (and former flame) Nicole James in order to save the boy. He’s successful in rescuing him, but in the process he’s killed and brought back to life by the medallion. With newfound superpowers, Eddie must save his friends and foil Snakehead’s plans.

The Medallion is rated PG-13 for action violence and some sexual humor.

What Worked:
I really enjoyed the concept of this movie. Turning Jackie Chan into a comic book superhero was a good idea that I was really into. While I didn’t particularly like the final product, I thought they were headed in the right direction. This movie was originally called “Highbinders”, and that’s the term for the immortal superheroes in the film. There was a lot of potential there for action and the scenes where Chan’s trying out his powers for the first time are hilarious and the high point of the movie. (Unfortunately, it takes an hour for this high point to arrive.)

This film is really only for fans of Jackie Chan. Everyone else will probably not enjoy it. (Even still, fans of Chan may not enjoy it, but that’s discussed later.) However, Chan continues to play the same character he does in every movie and he’s one of the few highlights of the film. If you walk into The Medallion, you pretty much know you’re getting standard Jackie Chan cinema. The children in the audience at my screening particularly loved the movie and they frequently laughed and cheered at the action and comedy.

While most of the supporting cast is weak, the one standout is Christy Chung as Charlotte Watson. Towards the end of the movie she comes completely out of left field to deliver one of the few surprises in the story. It’s never explained why she’s able to do what she does, but I still would have liked to see more of her.

On a final note, Hong Kong and Ireland both provide beautiful and unique backdrops for the film. The opening scenes featuring the Hong Kong marketplace are particularly exotic and fun to see. Also be sure to stick around for the trademark bloopers during the credits.

What Didn’t Work:
This movie is more like one of Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong movies than one of his American ones. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing. It has the typical inexplicable story and massive plot holes of his overseas fare and none of the big, jaw dropping action scenes. In fact, I can’t think of any stunt in the film that really stood out.

What’s odd is that this movie seemed like it was one of his Hong Kong movies with new footage filmed and inserted in. It starts out with the actors speaking English, then switches to footage that is dubbed, then back again. Chan also goes from having long hair to short hair for some reason. As soon as the intense action scenes start, the British actors all disappear while Chan fights alone. Occasionally they might splice in footage of Claire Forlani fighting a bad guy elsewhere, but it really seemed like the movie was the work of Dr. Frankenstein. It was put together from many different pieces. Maybe this was a strategy to get around insurance issues. It’s more OK to kill your stuntmen in Hong Kong, I guess.

The action is some of the least amazing I’ve seen in a Jackie Chan movie. While it’s still decent for an action movie, it’s nothing special compared to his other work. In fact, they rely very heavily on wirework. People jump impossible distances and do improbable flips. One scene even has Jackie running through treetops ala Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Chan has always been known for doing amazing real-life stunts, so seeing him do the wire stunts takes away from the novelty. Many of the fight scenes are done in slow motion and with shaky cameras, so they don’t look that good either.

The supporting cast is rather weak. Lee Evans is incredibly annoying as Arthur Watson. He does provide a couple of moments of genuine laughs, but overall he plays his character so over-the-top that he seems like he would be more appropriate as a clown than an Interpol agent. Claire Forlani is beautiful and has some cool fight scenes, but most of her screentime involves her acting like a giggly schoolgirl fawning over Chan. John Rhys-Davies is also completely wasted as a glorified extra in the movie.

The Bottom Line:
Overall this movie will probably be a major disappointment to Jackie Chan fans, but kids will probably get a big kick out of it.

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