The Medallion


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The Medallion
The Masked Reviewer

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:

bulletThere are several great Jackie Chan moments in the fight scenes.
bulletThe film features a few moments of spectacular wire work.
bulletSammo Hung (of "Martial Law" and Project A, among many others) directed the action sequences.
bulletLee Evans has some hilarious moments on screen, including one of the funniest moments the Masked Reviewer has seen in a long time.
bulletTwo hot British chicks have a fight scene.
bulletGreat outtakes at the end of the film.

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 important parts. 

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 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'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 on.

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