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The Medallion


The Medallion


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About a third of the way into The Medallion, after a pretty good opening and some clumsy exposition, the film lets a classic Jackie Chan sequence take over. Forgetting about plot, supporting characters, and other inconsequential matters, it simply puts Chan on the hunt, chasing a bad guy through the streets of Dublin (where filming must be cheap, since most of the cast is English, not Irish). Following Chan as he climbs fences, squeezes through tight spaces, and rides the tops of cars, all with inhuman grace, the sequence captures what the venerable star does best. It also raises expectations that the rest of this otherwise serviceable action-fantasy can't meet, particularly once it forgets that Chan is his own best special effect and starts relying on cut-rate CGI thrills. The action begins in Hong Kong, where Inspector Chan has teamed up with an Interpol team, led by bumbling agent Lee Evans, to capture super-criminal Julian Sands. Sands' character's name, "Snakehead," would probably establish his villainy even if he didn't kidnap a mystical child in possession of what one character describes as "the Holy Grail of Eastern mythology," a medallion capable of raising the dead and allowing characters to fight in slow motion like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix and bound over trees like Chow Yun-Fat in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Naturally, Sands wants a piece of that action, so he kidnaps the boy, forcing Chan to follow him to Ireland. There, Chan rejoins the reluctant, frequently mugging Evans and awkward love interest Claire Forlani, an actress who seems to have been chosen to make Chan's past chaste movie romances look sizzling by comparison. Though haphazardly put together, The Medallion stays fairly entertaining until it kills Chan off and resurrects him as an immortal being who's capable of taking bullets and falling from great heights without blinking an eye. That's not too far from the real-life Chan, but invulnerability makes his onscreen counterpart much less fun to watch. As he approaches his 50th birthday, it's probably unfair to expect wall-to-wall Chan action every time out. But while no one wants him to retire, half-hearted films like The Medallion make renting Dragons Forever or Supercop again seem like the better option.