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Dustin Putman

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The Medallion (2003)
1 Stars

Directed by Gordon Chan
Cast: Jackie Chan, Claire Forlani, Lee Evans, Julian Sands, Alexander Bao, John Rhys-Davies, Anthony Wong, Christy Chung, Johann Myers, Diana Weng
2003 – 89 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violence and some sexual humor).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, August 23, 2003.

Some critics have been eager to point out in their reviews of "The Medallion" that, at 49 years old, martial arts superstar Jackie Chan is getting a little long in the tooth to be performing the same sort of daring stunts he once did on his own. I beg to differ. In fact, "The Medallion" gives Chan far more opportunities to strut his stuff than was evident in his other American features, such as 1998's "Rush Hour," 2001's "Rush Hour 2," and 2002's "The Tuxedo." The result is a handful of action set pieces, including a fast-paced chase through the streets of Dublin, that are more diverting than they have any right to be. Chan may still have what it takes to perform difficult stunts, but unfortunately, he is surrounded by a cesspool of ludicrous plotting, incomprehensible storytelling, and characters about as sturdy as wet cement.

"The Medallion" doesn't make a lick of sense, but bear with me. Jackie Chan stars as Hong Kong investigator Eddie Yang, hot on the heels of a baddie called Snakehead (Julian Sands), who in turn is in hot pursuit of a sacred medallion that gives the possessor superhuman powers and immortality. Currently in the hands of a young child, Eddie teams up with two Interpol officers—the wisecracking Arthur Watson (Lee Evans) and ex-girlfriend Nicole James (Claire Forlani)—to protect the boy and stop Snakehead. However, the powers of the medallion have unforeseen consequences on Eddie when it saves his life.

Directed by Gordon Chan, "The Medallion" is the kind of movie fantasy that, instead of laying down ground rules from the start and following them, makes up its own set of rules as it goes, based on whatever is convenient to the plot at any given time. Trying to make heads or tails out of any of it will only leave the viewer with a headache, as it is doubtful even the filmmakers could explain their way out of some of the film's more heinously sloppy twists and inane developments. For reasons unknown, every action scene—and then some—are inappropriately scored with music that would be more at home in a Saturday morning cartoon.

Jackie Chan is a talented stuntman, but he will never be accused of being a first-rate thespian. As Eddie Yang, Chan plays the same type of character he always plays, with the exception of a slightly differing, more klutzy persona in "The Tuxedo." Speaking of which, the less-than-a-year-old "The Tuxedo" had a remarkably similar premise, but was notably more charming in any scene he shared with co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt than is the case with this film's female companion Claire Forlani (2000's "Boys and Girls"). The eternally wistful Forlani, who has shown spunk in the past, wastes her time here in a one-dimensional part that does her no favors. At least she doesn't grate on the nerves, which is exactly what the unctuous, over-the-top Lee Evans (2000's "The Ladies Man") does.

Just to prove how aimless and problem-ridden "The Medallion" is, the narrative stops cold at the 30-minute mark to offer up the most unnecessary extended montage sequence in recent memory, set to The Beatles' "Twist and Shout." You literally feel embarrassed for the actors as you watch the disaster of it all occurring before your very eyes on the screen. While the rest of "The Medallion" never comes close to sinking to such cringe-inducing depths again, it also never gives you a valid reason for existing in the first place. When the outtakes over the end credits—a sign of desperation in any movie—are infinitely more funny and joyous that anything that preceded them, you know you're in trouble.
© 2003 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman