The Medallion (2003)

(In theaters, August 2003) Can you say “cookie cutter”? I knew you could. Now, can you say “defective cookie cutter”? The problem with this Jackie Chan film is not that it’s essentially a rehash of many other films of his, but that its lack of originality is not compensated by anything else. For a putative “comedy”, it’s not quite funny (and it’s even worse when it does try to be funny: Yes, Lee Evans, I’m talking about you), it doesn’t develop its characters and it stumbles on amusing moments more than it creates them. (The least said about the “extra” sound effects, the better) The Medallion is frustrating in that even though the direction has some inspired moments, they’re undermined by the uncomfortable staging, by-the-numbers plot and overall lack of spirit. What about the wife with the secret identity? We want a pay-off! Action-wise, the influence of wire-fu is obvious, but even that can’t really raise the level of action above a certain hum-drum adequacy. Battles between super-powerful immortals should be more exciting, damnit! Jackie is getting old, and he has certain reached the age when pairing him with a nubile twenty-something (Here: the wonderful Claire Forlani) is getting yucky rather than romantic. Stop it before it reaches Woody-Allen levels of ickiness! Other aspects of the usual Chan personae are also failing: his goofy antics are increasingly out of sync with his age. Maybe it’s time for a career re-alignment, as far away from Hollywood as possible given the American industry’s tendency to produce clunker (Rush Hour 2) after clunker (The Tuxedo) for him. We love ya, Jackie; we just wish you were in better movies.

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