The Medallion (2003)


Ebert: San Francisco Examiner:1/2 TV Guide:

I like Jackie Chan films.  It took me a while to get used to his slapstick style of martial arts but once I understood the joke I have always been entertained.  His crazy physical stunt work and goofiness are the centerpiece of his films so it would be wrong to critique them based on plot, substance, or "acting."  Unfortunately, Jackie is getting old, the physical stunt work is diminishing and the goofiness has a forced quality that makes it look like he's not really having fun anymore.

The Medallion is the first film that I know of where Jackie uses digital and wire effects to amp up his signature martial arts styling.  It's fun to watch and I love digitally enhanced martial arts but I was unprepared to see them here.  That's not his fashion.  Jackie Chan does all his own stunts and this felt like cheating.

The movie tells the story of a cop (Jackie) who while working a case with Interpol agents stumbles into a supernatural battle for power and immortality.  A Golden Child-type monk boy and the mystical medallion he is charged with is being threatened by a super-villain who will risk everything to gain it's powers.

That's all you need to know about the plot.  It's unimportant anyway.  The reason to go see this movie, like all of his other films, is to watch Jackie Chan.  Watch him beat up henchmen in silly ways that immobilize but never really kill.  Watch him escape from other bad guys by running up a wall and slipping through the ornamental iron lattice of a tall decorative gate.  Watch as he verbally goofs up the pronunciation of an English word in a country that is foreign to his character.  It's all here and it's fun to see again and again and again.  If I had to complain about any of it I would say that the comic Benny Hill-type soundtrack that accompanies many these moments in the film seemed heavy handed.  We get it.  It's funny.

The other actors are serviceable.  The girl this time, Claire Forlani, isn't as busty as Jennifer Love-Hewitt (The Tuxedo) but she's cute and a much better fighter during the action sequences.  Lee Evans (The nerdy architect/pizza boy in There's Something About Mary) is funny sometimes and annoying at other times.  He's both serious and goofy so his character is somewhat difficult to understand.  Julian Sands is fine as the bad guy.  I don't really like him as an actor except in the role of the spider scientist in Arachnophobia

Jackie has always been one of the hardest working action stars in Hong Kong/Hollywood.  For many years he has made between 3 and 5 films annually.  My advice to Jackie is to "quit while you're still slightly ahead."  The Rush Hour and Shanghai films are a great swansong to a stellar career.  The Medallion was fun but it's probably time to close the show.