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. "The Medallion"

Five writers contributed to this contrived series of action cliches, including director Gordon Chan (no relation to Jackie). Can you just hear the story conference... "Well maybe we should introduce some superhuman capability. It works for "Xmen." When five writers can't churn out something more creative for Jackie Chan's acrobatic skills than this hollow excuse for an action script, it should be buried in turnaround, if not concrete. Its 15 month delayed release suggest low expectations even from the producers.

Eddie Yang (Jackie Chan), a Hong Kong detective, is brought in by Interpol to help prevent Snakehead's (Julian Sands) gang from kidnapping Jai (Alexander Bao), an exotic "chosen one", ala a Panchen Lama, who possesses half the medallion. The operation goes bad under the impossibly inept leadership of Interpol agent Arthur Watson (Lee Evans) trying to pull off a bumbling Poirot ala Brit legend Peter Sellers. But, predictably, Eddie manages to rescue the boy from the bad guys' clutches, before he (Eddie) is shot and killed. Obviously, there's no need to worry about losing our lead player.

The chosen one, with his half of the medallion, has powers, and he not only revives his rescuer, but he provides Eddie with superhuman powers of his own. But this doesn't prevent the Snakehead from finally capturing the boy and spiriting him away to his evil lair so that he may join the medallions halves and gain immortality.

Once Eddie convinces everyone that he is, indeed, still alive, the intrepid martial arts detective follows the Snakehead's trail to Dublin where he reunites with agent Watson for an assault on the remote hideaway. The silver lining is that he is also reunited with old flame Nicole James (Claire Forlani), a beauty high in the hierarchy of Interpol who kicks ass with the best of her team. Lucky for Eddie.

When the team finally engages Snakehead in his medieval castle redoubt, the CGI guys are brought in to wow the customers with an acrobatic contest between the gravity-defying combatants. It's pretty much video game cartoons from there on out without much attempt at giving it a lift out of the norm for the genre.

Be that as it may, there were a number of people in the audience who were howling at every attempt at humor or death defying destruction, proving that this motley fare will find plenty of uncritical appreciation.

The performers show routine skill but rise to the physical challenges that make the cable gymnastics and the CGI stunts come off. Sands, at least, provides a suitable visualization of a villain reveling in hissable evil. Chan's acting never comes close to a rescue of the material; Forlani's good looks dress things up a bit; Lee Evans mugging is too much to take.

In the technical credits, exotic locations are well photographed by Arthur Wong and the synthesizer music by Adrian Lee is at a stock level in keeping with the uninventive scenario.

This "Medallion" deserves the doom it will receive in the arena of criticism. It'll have to treat its judgmental wounds with boxoffice medicine, if there are enough cartoon lovers who can be enticed for the job.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  




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Jackie Chan at his usual high level

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