The Medallion


"Mediocre, because Jackie is again playing himself and not a character. And finally mediocre, because the best laughs are found in the outtakes at the end of the film."

- Reefer

The Medallion (2003)

AKA: Highbinders

Director: Gordon Chan

Producer: Alfred Cheung

Writer: Bey Logan, Bennett Joshua, Davlin, Alfred Cheung, Gordon Chan, Paul Wheeler

Cast: Jackie Chan, Claire Forlani, Christy Chung, Lee Evans, John Rhys-Davies, Anthony Wong

Running Time: 90 min.

Plot: Eddie Yang, a resolute Hong Kong cop who suffers a near fatal accident while investigating a case involving a mysterious medallion. Eddie soon discovers that with the powerful medallion in his possession, he gains incredible speed, strength and skills - taking his martial arts abilities to a whole new level. Enlisting the help of British Interpol agent Nicole James, Eddie is determined to learn the secret of the medallion and face down the evil Snakehead who wants to use its awesome powers for his own nefarious plans.


REEFER'S REVIEW: Jackie Chan's The Medallion is rare film. Rare, because its Jackie's most CGI-enhanced film to date. Rare, because he actually has a make-out scene with his lovely co-star. And finally rare, because it suffers from an obvious lack of thought, despite employing no less than five credited screenwriters to finish it. Five writers!

The Medallion is also cursed with the mediocrity that made most of Chan's other efforts (Mr. Nice Guy, The Tuxedo, First Strike, etc) flop like a cross-eyed mackerel. Mediocre, because Jackie fights . . . . well nobody of any skill. Mediocre, because his Interpol agent sidekick's character (Lee Evans) is totally ridiculous and absolutely unbelievable from beginning to end. Mediocre, because his love interest is again at least twenty years younger than him and no effort is made to explain the attraction. Mediocre, because Jackie is again playing himself and not a character. And finally mediocre, because the best laughs are found in the outtakes at the end of the film.

Jackie's character Eddie Yang is a Hong Kong cop on the trail of ruthless smuggler, Snakehead (Julian Sands, in a role that signifies that his career is coming to an end). Along the way, Yang is teamed up with Watson (Evans) an Interpol agent with an Asian wife (Christy Chung) and an inferiority complex. Together with Chan's ex-flame and fellow agent, Claire Forlani, they follow Snakehead to Dublin as the bad guy attempts to gain immortality from a mysterious medallion in the possession of a mystical young boy (think Golden Child). Well, through a chain of events, Yang is eventually given super powers and immortality but the other half of the trinket is acquired by the evil Snakehead and the battle is on.

Despite the presence of Opera school pal Sammo Hung as action director, these FX-laden battles unfortunately fail to impress. The problem is that somehow Chan was able to do things like leap six foot fences and scamper across the seats of parked bicycles before he gained super powers! Now his abilities are just exaggerated. He's stronger. Faster. And furthermore, who cares about a battle between characters who are IMMORTAL! They cannot kill each other so its pretty much anticlimactic.

Like many people, I want Jackie to make good films again. In a recent interview, he expressed a desire to do dramas, love stories, comedies, and the like. To do this, he must overcome one thing. Himself. And comply to the vision of a director. Gordan Chan, a good director, is credited with directing the Medallion, but there doesn't seem to be much of him in the final product. Instead, the audience gets more of what Jackie fans expect: Comic fights, lowbrow comedy, a good-natured hero, and some fun stunts. Bear in mind that this isn't always a bad thing. You get the feeling that if Steven Spielberg directed Jackie there would still be slapstick, bad dubbing, a teenage girlfriend and a monster truck laying waste to all in sight before the hilarious outtakes.


NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: On the surface, this Jackie Chan/Gordon Chan collaboration looks like a boring, mindless, special effects shitfest.

Looks can be deceiving.

Upon closer inspection, with a more receptive attitude, The Medallion is, in actuality...

...a boring, mindless, special effects shitfest.

I said looks CAN BE deceiving. I didn't say they ARE.

I'm not going to debate whether Jackie's recent string of vapid filler movies is due to his desire to succeed in America or the ravages of time; one way or the other, the days of crazed ten-minute action scenes with competent adversaries are well and truly over. That doesn't mean he still can't make enjoyable films, but The Medallion merely illustrates how far the man has fallen in terms of the vigor he brings to the screen. I'm not so unrealistic as to expect another extravaganza like Project A at his age, but he can most definitely do better than this.

So, there's a "chosen one" kid with mystic powers and a medallion (or, if you prefer, an amulet) which can grant immortality to the bearer and an evil British guy ("Snakehead") who wants them for himself and blah blah blah. Perhaps the story was more interesting before Columbia TriStar took it upon themselves to decide that people would rather watch 75% of a movie instead of a whole one. Perhaps not. Either way, Julian Sands is a pretty non-threatening villain, and the fact that he tries to befriend Jackie's character before their big "fight" (if the blur of special effects at the film's climax can be referred to as such) doesn't help matters. However, he's still easier to stomach than Jackie's partner Lee Evans, who keeps pointing his gun at statues; while watching his irritating style of overacting, all I could think about was the number of Ross Perot jokes he probably endured in the early '90s. Then there's Claire Forlani as The Woman, who was presumably hired because all the real actresses said no, and John Rhys-Davies in the role of an interpol boss, whose screen time is even shorter than Gimli. Or, hell, even Frodo. On the Asian side we have Christy Chung as Evans's wife (must have an ear fetish), whose combative skills were probably explained in an excised scene, and Anthony Wong Chau-sang as an ally of Snakehead's, whose dialogue is dubbed into English that isn't any better than the English he speaks himself.

Uninvolving, FX-laden action scenes with small amounts of anemic hand-to-hand combat (Sammo Hung's talents put to poor use) are scattered here and there, including a cat fight late in the game that brings back painful memories of Bulletproof Monk. The comedic highlight is Jackie suddenly telling Julian Sands "I want ice cream" in the outtakes (which, by the way, include numerous bits left out of the final cut, and show the original title, "Highbinders", on the black and white clapping thingie that they put in front of the camera at the beginning of each take). If you want laughs while the film itself is in progress, you're out of luck, unless you're like the pack of obnoxious kids I had to share the theater with and you find humor in the "Three's Company"-esque scene in which Chan and Evans accidentally lead some of the other interpol agents to believe that they're a gay couple.

In conclusion: Bah. Another few months of a Hong Kong star's time gone down the drain, and another 90 minutes and cost of a ticket wasted for us. (See also: Cradle 2 the Grave, Bulletproof Monk. Better yet, don't.) Here's hoping that Jackie gives up on special effects and goes back to disappointing us the old-fashioned way.