The Medallion (飛龍再生)

the medallion

The best way to enjoy this terrible movie is to turn into a ten year old – because The Medallion seems to have been made with this demographic in mind. As a kids’ flick, it’s big budget magic, a lot better than what the Disney Channel has lined up. There are funny good guys, menacing bad guys, exciting fight scenes, and a cool, glowing medallion that will give you superpowers and make you immortal.

Jackie Chan fans who have gotten past puberty, however, will want to skip this dying gasp of an effort. All the hallmarks of a Chan film are tried here, and all fail miserably. The worst are the attempts at humor, which rely on the pairing of the action star with British comedian Lee Evans. Both play police officers – Chan is Eddie Yang from the Hong Kong force, and Evans is Arthur Watson from Interpol – chasing after the evil Snakehead (Julian Sands) who has kidnapped a boy in possession of the supernatural medallion.

Unfortunately, the duo don’t have even a fraction of the opposites attract appeal that worked so well in the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon series. Evans leans heavily on cartoonish physical comedy, and this film lacks the sarcastic and satirical bite of the others. The jokes rely variously on culture clash, going undercover, and later, when Eddie gets a taste of the medallion’s powers, invincibility. But they are at once predictable and not very funny. Watson’s goofiness might appeal to the kiddie crowd, but to everyone else, he’s a sniveling and incompetent prick, and even Chan looks a little fed up.

The addition of Claire Forlani as Eddie’s love interest and fellow officer, Nicole, doesn’t help. Forlani, looking like a waifish Angelina Jolie, can kick some ass, but she and Chan force affection, ending up with more awkward moments together than tender ones. The rest of the cast, which include heavyweights Anthony Wong and John Rhys-Davies, are similarly out of place. No one seems quite comfortable being on set or around each other. Then again, it might be the awful script. I’d cringe too if I had to say things like, “You and I will live forever. We are the lords of time!” The only pleasant surprise turns out to be Christy Chung, who plays Arthur’s devoted wife and who has a few tricks up her sleeve.

The sluggish acting ends up affecting the action sequences, directed by Sammo Hung. Chan’s martial arts acrobatics seem to be on the wane as he is noticeably aided by wirework. I don’t object to that so much; he’s still fitter now than I will ever be. But the action is lackluster and unoriginal, inserted out of necessity rather than creative storytelling. That’s the problem with this film generally. There’s nothing fun or lively here. Skip it, guilt free, for some of Chan’s more popular hits.

Released: 2003
Prod: Alfred Cheung 張堅庭
Dir: Gordon Chan 陳嘉上
Writer: Gordon Chan 陳嘉上; Alfred Cheung 張堅庭; Bennett Davlin; Paul Wheeler; Bey Logan
Cast: Jackie Chan 成龍; Lee Evans; Claire Forlani; Alexander Bao; Julian Sands; John Rhys-Davies; Anthony Wong 黃秋生; Christy Chung 鍾麗緹; Alfred Cheung 張堅庭; Nicholas Tse 謝霆鋒; Edison Chen 陳冠希
Time: 88 min
Lang: English, some Cantonese and Mandarin
Country: Hong Kong, United States
Reviewed: 2014

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