[box cover]

The Medallion

If one were inclined to brand a year, 2003 could very well be termed the year of middle-aged ass-kickers. Having put foot to hiney since the 70's, 56-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator 3), 57-year-old Sylvester Stallone (Spy Kids 3-D), and 49-year-old Jackie Chan showed they could still play with the younger set — Stallone quite literally. Yet with Schwarzenegger's and Stallone's efforts one got the sense of a last gasp, whereas one expects Chan literally to keep kicking for years to come. The Medallion (2003) shows that though Chan is still a kung fu master, his deadliest foe is a bad scripting. Jackie stars as Eddie Yang, a Hong Kong detective who's been chasing the smuggler Snakehead (Julian Sands) for years, and is now trying to keep Snakehead away from a boy with a medallion that grants superhuman powers to whomever the boy uses it on. Snakehead has followed the boy to Ireland, so Chan has to team up with ex-girlfriend Nicole (Claire Forlani) and grumpy ex-partner Arthur Watson (Lee Evans, who mugs constantly to little effect). The bust goes bad, and — while saving the child — Yang drowns. But this is not a tragedy; the child gave the powers of the medallion to Yang, and he's now immortal and able to do superhuman stunts. Unfortunately, Snakehead also gets hold of the boy and his powers. Directed by Gordon Chan (who previously helmed one of Jackie's better efforts with 1995's Thunderbolt), The Medallion starts out reasonably well — if one realizes that this essentially is a Hong Kong film, that the acting and dialogue is a little loopy, the plotting exists to set up the action, and actors (good actors at that: John Rhys-Davies and Anthony Wong) show up and disappear for no apparent reason (the movie, as is apparent in the supplements, was reshaped in post-production). That said, in the first half Jackie gets a couple of solid action scenes that highlight his physicality and show that computer effects are no match for true dexterity. And that's why the moment Jackie becomes CGI-assisted and no longer relies on his natural talents, the fun and goodwill is lost. Watching Jackie do his stunts for real is always more thrilling than a computer assist, and that's why the idea of his superhero-dom never comes to life. Though it's good to see that nearing the half-century mark hasn't slowed Jackie down, he might want to read some of his scripts a little bit more thoroughly. Columbia TriStar presents The Medallion in anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) and pan-and-scan with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include 30 minutes of deleted scenes that show the film was going to go in some different directions, a commentary by co-executive producer Bill Borden and film editor Don Brochu, and trailers. Keep-case.

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