According to The Medallion‘s production notes, the film has been rated PG-13 for its action, violence and “some double entendre.” No plot point or narrative thread in the film is convoluted enough to excuse the need for its five screenwriters. On the contrary, the film’s crucial double entendre sequence—a gay-vague shtick at the Interpol police department—is so juvenile any fool with a fear of penetration could have written it. Not that it seems to matter, but The Medallion concerns Julian Sands’s sniveling Snakehead’s attempt to snatch a life-replenishing amulet from a young über Buddha. Jackie Chan stars as Eddie Yang, a Hong Kong police officer whose already superhuman powers are heightened when he intercepts the medallion (later referred to as “the Holy Grail of Eastern mythology”). Claire Forlani’s entrance is cued to a cheesy swell in the film’s score. After she slaps Chan on the face, they launch into trivial banter that barely hints at their characters’ romantic history. Yes, the plot is that threadbare and, for much of the film’s running time, it’s difficult to tell if there’s a point to its deliberate attempts at humor. But after nearly 30 minutes of wire-fu nonsense (mostly shot in a series of cheap and lazy medium shots), things take a turn for the surreal when Eddie chases one of Snakehead’s goons through the streets of London. Director Gordon Chan allows the camera to pull back, framing the exaggerated choreography of the chase in such a way that it calls attention to the actors’ unrealistic but nonetheless unbelievable movements. Lee Evans is a hoot as Eddie’s bungling Interport partner but it’s the film’s zippy direction that’s crucial to its moderate success. Along with the overzealous but mostly successful soundtrack, the director transforms the film’s colorful set pieces into something not unlike merry little cartoon melodies. Because the filmmakers often have so little to work with, The Medallion comes across as a mixtape of sparring sounds and various visual styles. While the screenwriters are merely content with pitting the film’s women against each other in a requisite cat fight, the meows on the film’s soundtrack suggests that the filmmakers were working overtime to subvert the garbage they were handed. Gordon Chan, a success in his native Hong Kong, is being primped for a breakthrough here in the States. The Medallion is his first English-language production and while it’s unlikely to do the job, it does show-off his remarkable ability to transcend the sheer ineptitude of his material.
- Screen Gems
- 90 min
- Gordon Chan
- Gordon Chan, Alfred Cheung, Bennett Joshua Davlin, Bey Logan, Paul Wheeler
- Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, John Rhys-Davies, Anthony Wong, Christy Chung, Johann Giscard Myers, Alexander Bao
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