Jackie Chan. He forever changed the
face of action comedy. His revolutionary approach to doing his own
stunts has made him a legend. And, now that he has won over
American audiences who cheer him on with the Asian public, he is the
biggest box office star in the world.
The Masked Reviewer will pause
here to mention that he has a strong affinity for Jackie Chan. The
Masked Reviewer has gone to great lengths to see every Jackie Chan film,
and the Masked Reviewer is something of an expert on the films of Jackie
Chan. Not to brag, of course. The point is, the Masked
Reviewer would find it extremely difficult to hate any film starring
Jackie Chan. If Gigli starred Jackie Chan instead of J-Lo,
it would've been watchable.
In addition to Jackie Chan, the film stars British funnyman Lee Evans
(Mouse Hunt, Funny Bones, and There's Something About
Mary). The bad guy is played by Julian Sands, and the sexy
British ultra-hottie is played by Claire Forlani.
Now, there are going to be many reviewers who will give negative
reviews to this movie. Some reviewers will pan an action movie
just because it's an action movie; others will be dissatisfied with
unsatisfactory acting, plot, direction, or pacing. Picky, picky.
But, we must give credit where credit is due. Therefore, the
Masked Reviewer will begin by highlighting some of the positive points
of the film. These may appeal more to fans of Jackie Chan than
non-fans of Jackie Chan, but still they are worth mentioning:
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with the film as well.
First of all, it's clear that a lot of The Medallion (in other
markets it's called Highbinders, for some reason) was left
on the cutting room floor. The Masked Reviewer did some research
(in the Masked Reviewer Secret Lair) and discovered that the film was
shot concurrently with The Tuxedo (released in 2002).
Apparently, about 25% of the film was chopped for the American release.
This is too bad, because the resulting film is clearly missing some
The start of the film is painstakingly slow. It's a good long
while before anything exciting or amusing happens, and there's no flow
to the film until about 40 minutes into it. It's reminiscent of
those Hong Kong films Jackie did where he wasn't in the movie very much
(like My Lucky Stars) and the audience is kept waiting, hoping it
will get better. Well, Jackie's on screen during the film, it's
just poor writing, or more likely bad editing that left the film feeling
empty and slow.
It may be the studio's fault. Sure, the Masked Reviewer might
be wearing blinders, but he'll give Jackie Chan the benefit of the
doubt. There are many scenes shown in the outtakes that aren't in
the film. The studio probably wanted a shorter running time after
doing their market tests. Another reason the Masked Reviewer
suspects the studio is at fault for the flaws is that the movie is
plagued with horrible music. The music seems to be added to get
laughs...you know, a tuba plays "wa-wa-waaaaaaa" to tell us to laugh.
It works with the young kids, but to everyone else it's
che-che-cheeeeeesy. Sometimes the studios will decide a
movie needs more laughs so they'll add sound effects or corny music to
cue the audience when to laugh. Not a good thing. They did
both. A scene with a bedpan featured a post-production sloshing
sound to make it seem like the bedpan was full. Well, that's nice.
Why not just use the scenes originally shot for the film?
In general, the film featured a soundtrack very evocative of a 70's
TV cop show.
The Masked Reviewer has pontificated about the use of wires in action
movies. The effect has been overused since The Matrix and
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The effect where someone snaps
their fingers, they stop camera, walk off stage, then start the camera
again and it looks like they've disappeared looks much more
convincing as a special effect. Wires have been misused horribly.
Jackie Chan has used wires to great effect in many of his films.
In fact, even in The Medallion, there are a couple of brilliant
wirework segments. But, when things turn supernatural (as they did
in The Tuxedo), it looks like Jackie Chan on wires. While
he does it better than almost anyone, it's an effect done to death.
As mentioned in the list of positives about the film, there is a
fight scene between two hot British chicks (or "birds" as they call them
over there). What are the odds that, in that country, they could
find two really attractive women to fight it out?
Diana Weng appears as a female undercover cop. For those of you
who like trivia, Diana Weng is the dialogue coach that worked with Sammo
Hung on "Martial Law" and with Jackie Chan on all of his U.S.
films of the last five years.
Another interesting tidbit is that this film features an extremely
rare screen kiss for Jackie Chan. So, for all of you who have been
waiting to see Jackie Chan play tonsil hockey, this is the film for you.
The acting, by and large, is fine. But the plot is a bit
convoluted, due either to bad writing, horrible last minute editing, or
both. The characters aren't well developed, and it seems
that they have relationships that are built around scenes we've never
seen. As a result the chemistry between Jackie Chan and Lee Evans
seems a bit off, which is too bad. The bad guy is a cardboard
cutout. The female lead is cute and fun to watch, but is also a
cardboard cutout character. The story isn't well explained and
seems like it's borrowed from several other films and slapped together
with duct tape.
On the upside...it's Jackie Chan! Come on! You know that
there will be moments of brilliance, and there are. It's not going
to be enough for some people, however. The film is a bit better
than The Tuxedo, but not up to the level of Shanghai Noon
(1 or 2) or Rush Hour (1 or 2). Lee Evans adds comedy and
there are one or two memorable moments, but they're few and far between.
Sammo Hung has some great fight choreography. If you love the wire
work of The Matrix, there's more of it in The Medallion!
The bottom line is that if you're a Jackie Chan fan, you'll find things
to like, but it's not his best.
Expectation from the Title: The story of a French chef who
loses everything in his quest to come up with a name for a small serving
size of veal. A cutlet? No. A dollop? No.
There must be something....
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Lee and Jackie are cute together, though they both have girl's names.
The Pros: Jackie Chan! Lee Evans is funny. Jackie
Chan! Sexy English babes in a catfight. Jackie Chan!
The Cons: Too much chopped out. Horrible cheesy music
designed to get laughs is just sad. Wire work, even when well
done, still overdone. Confusing and uninteresting story. The
first forty minutes are close to unbearable, but things get better later