"Earnest Request to Jackie Chan: 'Age Gracefully!'"
When Jackie Chan finally made his U.S. debut several years back (after hundreds of movies in his native land), we were impressed. Forget that "Rumble in the Bronx" and "First Strike" were old flicks dubbed up for Middle America; it was Jackie's screen presence and astonishing physical prowess that kept Americans (along with the rest of the world) so entertained. "He does all this stuff without help from stuntman or special effects!" is what we'd say as we stared gaping at Chan's antics. Man, does that seem like a long time ago.Since beginning his stint in Hollywood, Jackie Chan has appeared in precisely zero good films. OK, Shanghai Noon was pretty solid altogether, Shanghai Knights not so much, and forgive me for pointing out the wretched blandness of both Rush Hour flicks...and the less said about The Tuxedo the better.
I point of the general staleness of Chan's American output not to knock the guy, but to comment on two sad facts:
1. Jackie's getting a little old these days. 2. American filmmakers* have not a single blessed clue on how to best utilize Jackie Chan's talents. The studio suits either pair Jackie up with an odd-couple sidekick - or they hire a screenwriter to pen some atrocious "Asian Man gains superpowers" conceit.
(*That The Medallion is a Chinese/American co-production is even more disheartening; it proves that the horribly stale "Hollywood Formula Mindset" is contagious on a global scale.)
Last summer it was A) a computerized tuxedo, B) Jennifer Hewitt as the shapely lady, and C) Peter Stormare as a goofball villain.
This summer it's A) a magical medallion, B) Claire Forlani as the doe-eyed doll, and C) Julian Sands as a scheming bastard.
Each flick has a few kinetic moments of action, though each successive scene of inspired mayhem simply acts as a reminder of what used to make Jackie great. And it sure wasn't wire-fu trickery, poorly-veiled stuntmen and bottom-tier CGI explosions.
If you're looking for a plot synopsis to The Medallion, here's a easy tip: Think back to that silly old Eddie Murphy flick The Golden Child. Remember what that one was about?
That's what we've got here: Hero saves mystical kid. Only instead of the buxom Charlotte Lewis in Sidekick Mode, we're now offered the earth-shatteringly irritating presence of Lee Evans - a guy who is usually reliable for a few good laughs yet here comes off entirely annoying in his every moment onscreen.
Since nothing ever matters in a Jackie Chan flick save the action scenes, I'll offer this observation: The Medallion is easily the low point of Jackie's career thus far. For every one tiny nugget of slickness (something as simple as Chan bounding his way up a wrought-iron fence) there are a half-dozen fight moments that will have you slapping your forehead in annoyed disbelief.
The action bits are few and far between; the non-action bits are omnipresent and interminable. I'd say that The Medallion is a solid flick for 10-year-old boys, but even they'll be yawning through the nonsensical narrative.We'll soon get to see Jackie Chan in a supporting role in the upcoming "Around the World in 80 Days" remake. This is something to look forward to; since his recent flicks can be enjoyed only in very small doses, I suspect he'll navigate the "demotion" to supporting player quite successfully. The guy's got plenty of good movies still left in him; I just hope he gives up on these moronic Super Power retreads.