It takes a film like THE MEDALLION to put in perspective why Jackie Chan is the object of cult adoration that he is. It is only Jackieís undeniable charm that carries this flick through its distinctly un-engrossing first part. It is only Jackieís undeniable charm that makes the second part so much fun.
The plot is typical of the ones mass-produced by the Jackie Chan movie factory. Itís really pretty silly, though in this case rarely annoying, and exists merely to give Jackie the chance to show off his macho stuff. That he does so with a wink and a nod is the cherry on top. In this case itís the eponymous medallion, the mystical powers that it possesses, and the wunderkind who sparks it to life. Oh, thereís a villain, of course, who wants to harness the mystical powers for his own nefarious ends.
It all begins in Hong Kong where Jackie is a police inspector helping INTERPOL nab the bad guy, Snakehead (Julian Sands), and put a stop to his smuggling operations. What they donít know is that Snakehead isnít there to snap up contraband, but rather to find The Chosen One. That would be the first kid in a thousand years who can make the medallion do its stuff. Never mind how he knows about it, never mind that the temple where the kid is stashed and where the first of many shoot-outs occur seems to be located in a sewer. Whatís important is that Jackie ultimately and through several other chases and shoot-outs saves the kid and is rewarded with the medallion's magic touch. Suddenly heís got super human strength and so strong is the medallion's magic that not only does Jackie snap back when shot, stabbed, tossed from high buildings or anything else that would take out a mere mortal, his clothing miraculously heals, too, from bullet holes and the like. In fact, the only thing that seems to even faze super Jackie is hospital-style dessert gelatin, but, hey, thereís only so much that magic can do.
If only all of the above had happened in the first 15 minutes. Instead, we plod along for what seems like an eternity but is really more like an hour to get there. Until then, the story seems stretched to fill time. Scenes of Jackie talking on a phone in an outdoor bistro, or cutting a rug with old and future flame Claire Forlani seem like filler and not even interesting filler. Afterwards, though, watching Jackie cope with his new powers is killer, from the double take when a hop lands him three floors above where he started, to the sheepish apology when he rips a car door from its hinges. The pace picks up, too, with a more smoothly edited story. It helps throughout that Jackieís sidekick, Watson, is played by Lee Evans, who throws himself into the role of the pompous fool with a righteous ťlan and dead-on timing. Sands, on the other hand, brings his usual lugubrious menace to the role, an approach he perfected in the old WARLOCK franchise and hasnít modified one iota since. There is a staleness about it that undercuts any effectiveness it might still posses. The action sequences were choreographed by Sammo Hung and while such requisite moments as three-on-one bouts with Jackieís flying limbs taking out his opponents have a rapturous vigor, his final face-off in mid-air with Sands suffers from Sands' obvious lack of expertise, both with martial arts and wire work.
THE MEDALLION is a slight but serviceable vehicle for Jackie lovers. Others might want to wait for something of the caliber of SHANGHAI, or check out one of his Hong Kong flicks. You canít go wrong with DRUNKEN MASTER.
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Dan Walsh (dpjwalsh)
Sorry to say that the MEDALLION was no where near the level of Jackie Chans recent efforts. The only thing that carried the film was the phenomenal skill and charm of the man. The plot and story line was weak - the action was great but the "partner" this time simply wasn't of the same caliber as past "teams". For some reason it appeared that the camera was way too close to the action making it more difficult to appeciate Jackies moves. I've probably seen every one of Jackies movies and it seems each one has gotten progressively better - till now. Even the "Tuxedo" was more fun and inventive. Like I said - I love the man but this one should have stayed in the box or went straight to video.