The Medallion Review
I wouldn't have thought it possible that Jackie Chan could have made a worse film than The Tuxedo this year but he's managed it with The Medallion, a martial arts adventure so truly dreadful that you can scarcely believe Jean-Claude Van Damme would have agreed to star in it, let alone Jackie Chan. It appears to be a rip-off of the 1986 Eddie Murphy vehicle, The Golden Child, in which Murphy protected a child with mystical powers from the evil, English-accented villain (Charles Dance) who wanted the kid's powers for himself. In The Medallion, Hong Kong cop Eddie Yang (Jackie Chan) must protect a little boy named Jai (Alexander Bao), who possesses mystical powers, from an evil, English-accented villain (Julian Sands), who wants the boy's powers for himself. Yang first meets the child in Hong Kong where he and smarmy Interpol agent Arthur Watson (Lee Evans) have been following an elusive smuggler known as Snakehead (Sands). The villain has surfaced to buy the child from a local crimelord and, despite Yang and Watson's efforts, Snakehead escapes and has the boy shipped to his secret underground lair in Dublin.
Why Dublin? Who knows? Jackie's already done New York, Los Angeles, London and the Wild West and maybe Dublin was next on his list. It's just a shame that the film fails to make good use of the location. While director Gordon Chan throws in enough picturesque second unit shots to delight the tourist board, there's no local flavour at all. In fact there isn't a single Irish accent in the whole film - the local Interpol cops are all English. What a missed opportunity! When I first heard about The Medallion, I loved the idea of an martial arts film set in Ireland. I thought perhaps Jackie might do his own version of John Wayne's famous pub brawl scene in The Quiet Man or maybe he could fight a gang of deadly riverdancers or at least give Westlife a good kicking. Instead this may as well be set in London or Edinburgh or any northern European city.
Things do perk up a little with the introduction of the lovely Claire Forlani as a Dublin-based Interpol agent and there are a couple of half-decent chases and fight scenes in the city, but then half-way through there's a bizarre twist. Please consider this a warning rather than a spoiler: Eddie Yang dies saving the child and the kid resurrects him - as an indestructable superhero who is impervious to bullets and can run very fast. So from this point on, the not-bad fight scenes (the film's sole redeeming feature) are replaced by terrible special effects and the viewer is left idly wondering why Eddie's colleagues don't seem to find it strange that he's been raised from the dead.
Amazingly, the cast emerges relatively unscathed. Jackie Chan is his usual chirpy self. No matter how bad the movie, you can't quite bring yourself to blame him. He even gets a couple of laughs in the obligatory out-takes over the end credits. Claire Forlani is pleasant enough as Jackie's love interest, Julian Sands does his usual hammy British villain and John Rhys-Davies is barely in the film. Only Lee Evans comes off badly, being completely miscast as the sort of stuffy English buffoon usually played by John Cleese or Rowan Atkinson.
The writers however should hang their heads in shame, all five of them, including the director and fellow Hong Kong veteran Alfred Cheung, plus British TV writer Paul Wheeler (The Professionals, Minder, The Darling Buds Of May) and Bey Logan, an expert on martial arts cinema who's contributed commentaries to many of the Hong Kong Legends DVDs. Together they've come up with one of the most atrocious scripts ever produced. The attempts at comedy are especially cringe-worthy. An example: Jackie Chan is at Interpol HQ, trying to convince Lee Evans to work with him. "I want to do it with you", says Chan. "No, you'll have to go and do it by yourself", replies Evans as their colleagues listen in and snigger into their hands. In case it's too subtle for you, the joke is that Jackie and Lee sound like they're gay. OK, I'm not above laughing at gay jokes but don't the writers understand that double entendres are only funny if the dialogue sounds like something the characters might actually say and if the people overhearing don't know it's a double entendre? The makers of Bad Boys II understood that when they used the exact same gag last month, which is why that scene made me laugh and this one made me so embarassed for everyone concerned, I wanted to crawl under my seat.