The Medallion (2003) / Action-Fantasy

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence and some adult humor
Running time: 90 min.

Cast: Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, Alex Bao, Anthony Wong, Christy Chung, John Rhys-Davies
Director:  Gordon Chan
Screenplay: Bey Logan, Gordon Chan, Alfred Cheung, Bennett Joshua Davlin, Paul Wheeler

Review published August 22, 2003

I suppose it's a bad sign when a seemingly mindless action film has five writers attached to it.  The Medallion ends up being another misfire for Jackie in an English language film, proving that people might like him in buddy flicks, but are still not sure they want to see him as the main star.  It's not hard to figure out why, as Jackie's brand of humor is seen by and large as too juvenile in nature to many moviegoers, which is a shame since he is quite a funny comedian in his own right.  Except The Medallion is a mostly unfunny film, not only because it has quite a bit of dark overtones, but when it does go for laughs, which is more frequent than it should, it's so trite in its delivery that more groans are elicited than chuckles by a significant margin.

The film starts out with Julian Sands as the maniacal Snakehead, following a legend that promises immortality and god-like powers.  It seems a young boy controls a powerful ancient medallion every thousand years, and Snakehead wants the vast powers bestowed upon him, probably to eventually rule the world.  His kidnapping plan is thwarted by H.K. cop, Eddie (played by Jackie Chan), who teams up with an Interpol officer, Watson, and an old flame, Nicole (Forlani), in rescuing the boy and stopping Snakehead's nefarious plans.

Basically, The Medallion is a retread of the weak Eddie Murphy flick from the 80s, The Golden Child, except with Jackie Chan as the star.  It has the same type of kid with the same type of powers, the same kidnapping plot, the same high-kicking female sidekick, the same kind of tone and sense of humor, and very similar scenes involving the boy's lack of speech and unwillingness to eat certain things.  Unfortunately, the overall quality ends up being about the same as well, with unevenness caused by the juxtaposition of very light slapstick humor with much darker violent undertones. 

There are very few decent moments in the film, with an occasional funny gag, but none of these have to do with the story at large.  The rest of the time, it's bereft of entertainment value by derivative plotting, an awful score, poor cinematography, and dimly lit fight scenes.  Jackie has a few decent moves, but much of the time he is clearly assisted by cables or computer enhanced graphics (there's a reason for it, but I don't want to give a spoiler like other critics have done), so we can't even rely on seeing some amazing athleticism on display.

The Medallion is one of the most forgettable of Jackie's films, neither funny nor exciting enough to garner any sort of distinction.  You've seen Jackie much better, much funnier, and much more appealing before, so unless you are a completist or have an incredibly low threshold for entertainment, my advice is to avoid ninety minutes of sure monotony.  Even Jackie's staunchest of fans have to be disappointed in the kind of films he chooses to cast himself in these days.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo