The Medallion (2003)

Cynthia Fuchs

As energetic and enthusiastic as Jackie Chan remains, things have definitely changed, for him as well as viewers.

The Medallion

Director: Gordon Chan
Cast: Jackie Chan, Claire Forlani, Lee Evans, Julian Sands, Alexander Bao
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Columbia
First date: 2003
US Release Date: 2003-08-22

The outtakes at the end of Jackie Chan's movies used to be great fun, revealing the literal beatings he endured to realize his extraordinary stunts. He's older now, of course, has broken multiple bones, and has even taken up wirework in an effort to keep up with the genre he once made -- more or less -- his own. These days, more and more, his outtakes feature flubbed lines, as in the final credits sequences for Rush Hour 2 or Shanghai Knights (the sequels to his buddied outings with Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson, respectively), where his broken English apparently suffices for entertainment.

All this is not to say that anyone wants to see Chan break his bones (well, someone probably does). It is to point out that, as energetic and enthusiastic as the man remains, things have definitely changed, for him as well as viewers. Gordon Chan's The Medallion shows more signs of slowing. Chan plays a Honk Kong cop named Eddie Yang, introduced mid-mission, in an uneasy alliance with Interpol. So that you can feel assured that Eddie's really a nice guy right away (in case the fact that he's played by Chan doesn't clue you in), the first moments show him buying fast-food octopus for himself and another portion for a stray dog. Cue cutesy shot-reverse shot sequence. Aww.

Just then, he gets the call. An undercover cop has spotted the culprit. Time to move! Back in the day, this would mean some stunty good times. Now, it means that Chan will be sharing the screen with his appointed "buddy," here Lee Evans as Interpol agent Arthur Watson (Evans was the fake-crutches guy in Something About Mary, which may give you a sense of his comedic parameters). The action goes on to cut back and forth between Eddie chasing down the villain -- someone named Snakehead (Julian Sands playing the same reedy villain he's played for ten years) -- through a Hong Kong temple and Arthur pulling his gun on every Buddha he runs across, as if the joke will become funnier if only it's repeated eight times.

Snakehead's target at this moment is the titular medallion, and the magical little boy, Jai (Alexander Bao) who can imbue it with its designated powers, in this case, granting the user super-powers and immortality. The catch is that the user must die an unbrutal death (body intact) and be brought back to life by Jai with medallion in hand. Eddie takes out a series of guards with some kicking and leaping, Arthur arrives too late, and the boy is saved. The scene closes with him looking as gratefully at Eddie as that stray dog. Aww.

A few minutes later, Snakehead kidnaps the boy (apparently Jai has no adults to care for him, and apparently Interpol didn't follow up on the causes for Snakehead's initial assault). Eddie, still liking that boy, figures it out and heads to Dublin, where Snakehead has a castle and Interpol has an office. Too conveniently, Arthur works for this Interpol. (And he's somehow crucial to the case, which means Eddie needs to work with him; why is never explained, as he appears to have no particular information or insight to contribute).

Also too conveniently, Eddie's ex, Nicole (Claire Forlani, who appears to be running a British accent) also works there. Eddie and Nicole's first meeting on the job brings up the film's greatest and never-addressed mystery, that Eddie "didn't call" and she forgives him instantly -- what either of them might have been thinking on either occasion is entirely unknowable. Maybe it's better not to know. The biggest news about Nicole is that she provides the occasion and the lips for Jackie Chan's first onscreen kiss. It's sad to say that this is news, but given the traditionally a-sexed characterizations of Asian martial arts (and other) stars in U.S. movies, it is.

While Nicole and Eddie rekindle their romance through obvious gazes across an office stocked with extras carrying clipboards, Arthur and Eddie engage in gay jokes that hinge on the fact that Arthur looks and acts so darn gay. (Usually in buddy movies, the partners appear so straight that the gay jokes look phobic; here, they look odd and phobic.) So that you might rest assured that Arthur, as he puts it, is "a man!" Eddie and Nicole visit him at home with his wife Charlotte (Christy Chung), where the primary gag is that she thinks they're all librarians. In a wholly peculiar montage sequence, they cook and laugh and twist to "Twist and Shout," as if to bring together all the cross-cultural and cross-sexual currents in the room.

This sequence, seemingly so nonsensical and irrelevant, underscores the film's general slapdashness; attributed to a slew of writers (who seem not to have consulted with one another), it has the spastic rhythms of a Hong Kong martial arts film, with none of its charms. Why do you see Eddie actually arrive at the Dublin airport, exit the building, and drive to Interpol? How do Nicole and Eddie ride her motorcycle to Snakehead's lair and arrive sooner than Arthur in his homemade airplane? And why oh why does Nicole engage in a catfight with Snakehead's evil girl minion, complete with a cat-meow to open the fight, and then not even muster a decent fight?

Slowed by such tedium and self-congratulatory showiness, The Medallion might have used a bump from Sammo Hung fight choreography. It is sometimes sharp, but the editing is erratic and the wirework illogical. At first, Eddie and his anonymous ninja-looking team can leap tall ship containers and scale the occasional wall. After Eddie dies to save the boy and is resurrected, all bets are off: he can fall off buildings, be stabbed and shot, speed up and down stairs in a blur of whooshy effects, and take all kinds of martial arty punishment without any apparent consequences -- all emphatically not what Jackie Chan does best.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.