Jackie Chan was born in April of 1954. 1954!!! That makes him about 48-years-old at the time of filming The Medallion. Does he kick more butt than any other actor his age? Yes. Does he do it with the speed and intensity of his youth? Of course not. There are many who think Chan should retire, and if ever there were a film to support this idea, it's The Medallion.
Chan is as charming and talented as ever. He still scampers up giant gates and slips through tiny openings with ease. He still has that winning smile and special brand of comic timing. But every element in The Medallion is a re-re-hash of classic Chan days long gone, and the action scenes are filled with wire-work and creative editing that Chan would never have accepted in his heyday. You have to give Chan credit for continuing to make movies for his fans; but you'd think he'd want to be a little more choosy with his roles.
The Medallion has a little too much in common with The Golden Child for my tastes. Jackie Chan is a Hong Kong cop named Eddie Yang who must protect a young boy and his magical medallion from being captured by an evil villain named Snakehead. The young boy is "The Chosen One" and only the Chosen One can use the Medallion to revive the dead and grant immortality. Yang has no idea who the boy is or what the medallion can do. He simply protects the boy from Snakehead and his goons out of the goodness of his heart. In addition to battling the villain and his gang, Yang must struggle with a bumbling, unfunny group of Interpol policemen, spotty dubbing, and a nonsensical storyline.
This movie was so bad it could almost have been a parody. Though helmed by a Hong Kong director (Gordon Chan, no relation) and choreographed by Sammo Hung, The Medallion reeks of studio influence. The story is full of holes, for example: at the crucial moment when "Chosen One" joins the two halves of the medallion, he is guarded by two monks (who are easily incapacitated). Then there's this weird Disney-esque scene where Yang and an Interpol officer repair their friendship by "goofing off" in the kitchen while dancing to '"Twist and Shout." Eventually there are some straightforward chase scenes where Chan gets to do what he does best, and for a moment it seems as though you're watching a real movie instead of some bizarre work print. Before long, the movie swerves again. This time an Interpol agent's Asian wife turns out to be a surprise expert in martial arts. Why? We never find out. It must be because she's Asian. The climax of the film is an almost laughable battle sequence between Snakehead and Yang with the inevitable and completely unnecessary hint-o-Matrix. The film seems to be taking the splatter gun approach to finding an audience when all it needs to do is be a straightforward Hong Kong action flick! Emphasis on the action!!!
There are many things which could have saved this movie: a different sidekick for Chan would have helped a lot. Claire Forlani, Chan's action partner / love interest is totally unbelievable in both roles. In addition, all the comic relief scenes with Lee Evans as some kind of neurotic Mr. Bean were embarrassingly bad and should have been skimmed from the script like so much useless studio fat.
If you want to see a good Jackie Chan movie, rent Jackie Chan's My Stunts, or Twin Dragons or Drunken Master. There is absolutely no reason to see The Medallion, even for the most hardcore Chan fan. Save your dollars and take the ninety minutes to write Chan a letter. Tell him how amazing he is and ask him, as fan, to please not make any more movies like The Medallion.
-Megan A. Denny