The Medallion
Grade: C-
Year: 2003
Director: Gordon Chan
Writer: Alfred Cheung
Genre: Action/Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

Jackie Chan must still be ailing from his "The Tuxedo" experience, a film about a magical tuxedo that gives Chan superhuman powers whenever he dons it. "The Medallion" is kind of like that, though slightly better, it is another waste of Chan's talents and our time.

The film is about--if you haven't already guessed--a medallion, an ancient Chinese medallion that holds the power of both life and death to whoever posses it. Maybe it's just half of the medallion, or none of it as long as you've possessed it before? We're not quite sure because these answers are never fully explained. Either way, trying to use logic in this film is pointless.

Sad to report, the most recent Chan flicks have succumbed to mediocre CGI effects instead of barebones martial arts. Maybe Chan's fearless no-stunt-double policy is vanishing because he's almost 50 years old, but even "The Medallion" shows that there is a little juice left and perhaps it's about time we milk it. Or maybe he should just abandon acting altogether and pick up directing for a change.

The derived plot of "The Medallion" is about the medallion and a young child who knows its powers because he meditates. Seeking the medallion which can grant eternal life is Snakehead (Julian Sands), who at the same time is evading Hong Kong police officer Yang (Jackie Chan). Yang's joint partner is Interpol investigator Arthur Watson (Lee Evans) who tells a wall to freeze when he jumps around the corner with his pistol raised. Also on the team is Nicole (Claire Forlani), Yang's former lover and possible revived one as well.

Yang's sidekick, Watson, is the only semi-interesting character in the movie. He's clumsy and incompetent beyond explanation but thinks he's a top-cop. Yang patiently goes along with him, and we can somewhat enjoy the mildly entertaining Watson and his antics. But his story soon turns sour as we get more homage from summer action movies, this time from "Bad Boys II" where we learn Watson's wife, who kept her career a secret for some reason, is a cop too, all while Watson pretended to be a librarian to disguise his career as well, and I could go on but I'd rather stop.

One detail I left out about the medallion's description is that you must first die before its powers can render you immortal. We see Yang's dead corpse on a medical bed; the young boy performs an ancient ritual over the body, and before you can say "boring" Yang's new lively body emerges naked from the room next over. Watson is in shock to see two Yang's while the alive-Yang lifts the bead sheet off the corpse to compare "sizes." Another character will die (female) later on and comeback immortal, although we will not enjoy such investigations with her return.

Yang comes to terms with his new found abilities and gets over the whole dying thing and concentrates on finding Snakehead. On the way he tumbles through the air and flies through tunnels all in glitch-like glory.

So while Yang and company follow Snakehead and company around the globe, we must put up with a horrible story and only somewhat decent special effects. Chan's own stunts start at climbing up a wall and end with him jumping over it. He also hops a few fence posts. Don't get me wrong, he does it with quick speed and you may even say "wow I can't do that," but this is little league stuff for Chan. Picking up where his stunts end, the medallion takes over.

There are two goals in movies such as these, where one party chases another while in search of (fill in the blank). Obviously whatever is being sought needs to end up in the right hands, and lastly the enemy hideout must be found so justice can prevail.

Finding Snakehead's lair is as challenging as finding the tallest shoreline caves in Scotland. Not knowing this information can be obtained from a friendly geographer, and after learning that it's all about the final confrontation with Snakehead. He eventually finds Snakehead but by that time he too has used the medallion's powers to become immortal.

The midair fight between the two is less than impressive as stop-go camera tricks make it hard to clearly see the action. Some scenes require wire work such as ones where Yang flies, but those are executed no better or more improved than the similar scenes from 1980 Superman II of which a copy currently sits on my desk.

One might ask how Yang (now immortal) with defeat Snakehead (also immortal) in the final battle, and the answer is told by the young kid who originally possessed the medallion. He says, "to give life means to also take life," or something to that garbage, but it still has the same problem that affected "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" nonetheless; that seeing two immortals fight is useless and not exciting. Somehow a loophole will give Yang the chance to defeat Snakehead and possibly repair his relationship with Nicole, but you'll have to find out for yourself if it ultimately works.

"The Medallion" may turn out to be Chan's most recent forgettable movie of his career, simply because it's so bland and mediocre. At least "The Tuxedo" was so horrible that one can be amused by its badness. "The Medallion" doesn't even offer that.

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Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Contact Editor: Scott Spicciati