Medallion, The

The Medallion (  )

A temple. A child. A mysterious medallion. A chase from Hong Kong to Ireland with Jackie Chan the energetic cop and Lee Evans the accident-prone, hyperactive agent of Interpol.

Such is the basic premise of The Medallion, and given that it combines comedy-action, stunts and a glimpse of immortality and superhuman strength courtesy of the trinket of the title, it has to be fun.

Well, in small doses, it is, but the doses are small enough so as not to register on the funny bone, thus giving rise to the suspicion that this particular vehicle for the non-stop antics of the clown prince of kung-fu has undergone something of a rewrite. And that’s the least of its problems.

Somewhere, deep within this messy, incoherent bundle of fluff lies the kernel of a decent film. After all, Indiana Jones has dealt with immortality and it didn’t do his box office any harm. Throw in a touch of Lara Croft and The Medallion (previously known as Highbinders) might just have worked.

As it stands the movie is a limp attempt to prevent Chan’s slide into mediocre movies. There was a time, around 10 or 12 years ago, when Chan, now 49, was the king of all he surveyed in Hong Kong. Now, a decade on, he appears to have fallen foul of the American style of cinema that has brought him some of his biggest hits in flicks like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon. And it ain’t working.

Chan has never recovered from moving Stateside. His once vibrant, bouncy Hong Kong action comedies have now become Hollywoodised hybrids of what he was doing in the Eighties and early Nineties. He’s as agile as he ever was, but time is running out. After The Tuxedo – another film in which plot was sacrificed in favour of Chan’s show-off style – and now this, Chan is going to have to face facts and consider a different type of film. The trouble is, pushing 50, what will he do?

The Medallion suffers from the efforts of half a dozen scriptwriters, including my old mate Bey Logan. Throw in a D-list cast – Claire Forlani as Chan’s foxy love interest, the wooden Julian Sands as the villain, Snakehead, and Lee Evans as Chan’s partner – imagine Norman Wisdom toting a pump action shotgun – and it rapidly becomes boring.

The script is bad enough, but Sands either can’t or won’t breathe life into his villain’s snarls and Evans masticates his lines until they (and he) sound like he’s just stepped out of a Victorian voice academy.

The only plus point is Chan’s astounding physical dexterity – a skill exercised to considerable effect with the use of wires and computer work. Throw in some occasionally funny moments – the best being when Chan, now immortal, invites Evans to shoot him. He stabs him instead, over and over again – and The Medallion rapidly turns into yet another forgettable kung-fu comedy.

Lame isn’t the word.

Star rating: *

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