[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
The Medallion

Better than The Tuxedo, worse than Shanghai Knights

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

August 24, 2003 -- The latest Jackie Chan movie is not one of his best efforts, but it is better than the woeful “The Tuxedo.” It is a notch below such recent Chan movies as “Shanghai Knights” and “Shanghai Noon.” Chan, the world's foremost action film star, is known for his acrobatic stunts and comedic antics. The acrobatic stunts are undermined to an extent, as they were in “The Tuxedo,” by overuse of computer-generated digital animation. Since these effects allow anyone to do anything, Chan's incredible acrobatic skills are nullified. That leaves us with comedy, and this script has comedy that is overly broad and lacks any kind of real cleverness. The jokes and sight gags are mostly groaners.

What else does that leave us with? Fight scenes of course. This is a martial arts movie. The fight scenes are choreographed by Jackie Chan's old pal, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo (who once starred in an American TV series called “Martial Law”), and Sammo does not disappoint. The fight scenes are well-staged, but again, the extensive use of digital effects and wires takes some of the wonder out of these scenes as well. The plot of the film is essentially the same as a 1986 Eddie Murphy film called “The Golden Child,” and it is about as bad a film as that was. Chan plays Eddie Yang, a cop, who out to nab some bad guys led by Snakehead (Julian Sands of “Timecode”), who are after a child named Jai (Alexander Bao). Jai, using a magical medallion, possesses the power to raise the dead and give them superhuman powers.

Yang follows Snakehead and Jai from Hong Kong to Ireland. There, he is teamed with old flame Nicole James (Claire Forlani of “Mystery Men”) and the buffoonish Arthur Watson (Lee Evans of “The Ladies Man”) as part of an Interpol operation. The head of the Interpol unit in Ireland is Commander Hammerstock-Smythe, played by John Rhys-Davies of “Lord of the Rings,” a fine actor who is seen all too briefly in this film. Watson is like a Mr. Bean version of a police officer. Evans seems to be a pretty good comic actor, but he's got the thankless job of playing an idiot with a poorly-written part. One throwaway scene has Yang and Nicole trying to persuade Watson to rejoin the team after he has quit. The scene makes no sense because Watson's presence on the team is unnecessary. He has nothing to contribute to any possible crime fighting effort. There are some laughs in this film, but they are few. Most of the pratfalls are groaners.

The back story between Nicole James and Yang is not explored fully enough for their relationship make any sense. Another character, supposedly an ordinary housewife, suddenly becomes a Bond-like super hero. How she came to have such extraordinary skills is totally unexplained in the movie. I would imagine the answer to this mystery fell on the cutting room floor. It should have been picked up and glued into the film. Plot holes, bad editing and uneven characterizations are among the many reasons this film cannot stand on its own two feet. It makes sense only as it relates to the rest of the Jackie Chan universe. This film is very much in the tradition of cheaper Hong Kong action movies, where character development is weak, the plot jerks along without any consistency or reason and the comedy is a couple of notches below the Three Stooges. It is for hard-core Jackie Chan fans only. It rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2003 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)