ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE MEDALLION (2003)


DIRECTOR  -  gordon chan

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  chop socky

LENGTH  -  88 minutes

RELEASED  -  22 august 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  screen gems

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the medallion

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $41,000,000
the medallion - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from the medallion at amazon.com

buy the dvd from the medallion at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
a jackie chan kung-fu fest with a barely discernable plot.




MOVIE FACT:
originally titled "highbinders."


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from the medallion

picture from the medallion

picture from the medallion



RATING:


one out of four possible stars

While fans of Jackie Chan might enjoy some of his usual high-flying acrobatics in The Medallion, there is something missing from the overall package that threatens to make this film just another nameless Kung-Fu rental on the shelves at Blockbuster. The missing piece is Chan's heart-felt comedy which seems to have disappeared from the soundtrack of this film. While Chan doesn't necessarily require an on-screen partner to create hilarious jokes (his pairings with Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour and Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon have turned those films into series with their popularity), the bubbly yet fiery Chan seems subdued and not as entertaining in this film as he usually is. Sure, the comedy is there, it's just not that funny this time around.

Perhaps it's the peculiar casting of Claire Forlani in the role of "Nicole," a fellow cop (from Interpol) in Hong Kong. Although the two interact well, there isn't enough excitement or intensity to their conversations and dialogue. Many of their scenes fall flat, despite the effort put forth by Chan to entertain the audience with his martial arts choreography - some of which is done with wires and a stunt-person, not the usual Chan standard. And while the choreography usually "looks" good, it's not on par with what Chan has done in the past.

Perhaps he's gotten himself into the worst case of type-casting, but seeing Chan use CGI effects just takes some of the freshness out of his routines. Sometimes it's difficult to believe in Chan's immortality because the effects are so contrary to what Chan usually presents. Beyond the martial arts, perhaps it's the less than stellar dialogue he and co-stars must utter over the course of the rather banal plot. It might seem foolish to expect a plot from a film whose main purpose is to entertain one with action sequences, but nevertheless, it's still a required element and it's drudgery in this movie.

As the evil "Snakehead," actor Julian Sands plays his role with appropriate devishness, though he seems a stock character more than anything else. As do most of the characters in the film. So many elements in this film, from the dialogue to the story, seem so familiar (as in they've been used to exhaustion in too many other films) that any casual viewer will be ten steps ahead of the characters as far as plot turns are concerned. Though Chan's movies are usually and primarily just a forum for his antics, the lack of real comedic effort puts more pressure on elements such as the plot

And unfortunately, the plot is incredibly weak in this film, moreso than in many of Chan's most recent efforts (most of which have left the ingenuity of the plot on the cutting room floor - if it was even in the script to begin with). One can't create a film that can't boast one single outstanding element and expect it to survive the criticisms of an audience used to a better looking product. Sometimes its easy to ignore story discrepancies and unbelievable plot turns as long as the action is of the highest caliber and is exciting enough to allow one's eyes to become more important than the brain.

The music and cinematography of the film are sufficiently done, though Chan's films are usually quite polished in their look and never suffer from lack of a production design budget. Much effort is placed into making the sets where Chan engages in fights as varied as possible and The Medallion is no exception. But it's the fights that take place in those sets which don't complete the picture. Having built his career on a certain type of presentation, this film sometimes feels like more of an experiement than something that Chan put his heart and soul into. In interviews, Chan is usually very animated and excited about his films, but it's difficult to imagine him seeming all that excited about this film, given the dullness of it all of it on screen.

Jackie Chan usually hits the nail right on the head as far as bringing to the screen a highly entertaining movie, or he muddles around in a film whose best compliment would be the descriptive term, "mediocre." The Medallion is a film resembling the latter. Pick any one of Chan's several films off the shelf and you'll probably end up with a more entertaining Kung-Fu film.

It would be too harsh to label this film a complete waste of time, as fans of Chan's martial arts techniques might enjoy the action sequences, but beyond that, other viewers might have a hard time really caring what happens in this film. The characters, plot, and dialogue are of such a secondary nature, that it seems presumtuous to call this film a "movie." It's more like a ninety-minute series of mildly entertaining Kung-Fu fights. Definitely not Chan's best.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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