The reason one goes to see a Jackie Chan action movie is to see Jackie Chan play an incredibly nice guy, do some eye-popping stunts, and laugh a bit at both the jokes and slapstick violence. Most of that is in The Medallion, or at least it appears to be on the surface. But the film doesn’t work, and I think it’s because it has been made like an imitation of a Jackie Chan movie. It’s a cheap knockoff, not a genuine original.
The Medallion‘s protagonist is Eddie Yang (Chan), a Hong Kong police officer who begins the film working with Interpol to hunt down a crime boss, Snakehead (Julian Sands), who will serve as our primary villain. Snakehead tries to kidnap a young boy, Jai (Alex Bao), but is foiled by Yang, even though Snakehead escapes. A while later, Snakehead is found in Ireland, so Yang heads there to team up with his former partner, Arthur (Lee Evans), and his former lover, Nicole (Claire Forlani), in an attempt to bring down the bad guy once and for all. Oh, and a magical medallion and an ancient prophecy get involved at one point or another.
Here’s a shocker: A character played by Jackie Chan dies early on in a movie. I know! Eddie and Jai wind up trapped inside of a shipping container that falls into the ocean. Jai survives inside of an inflatable tent, while Eddie dies. He comes back to life soon after, and has superpowers upon his resurrection, but how big of a shock is it to see a Jackie Chan character die? Upon his rebirth the normal stunts you’d see from this character wind up being pushed aside for extensive CGI and wire effects.
That’s disappointing. There are a few solid action scenes early on in The Medallion, and I was enjoying myself up to this point. But then he comes back to life and (1) can’t be killed, (2) is super fast and can jump great heights, and (3) can knock out anyone with one fist, save for the final boss who also has these powers, which leads to a Dragonball Z fight to the death. Any and all enjoyment from the action scenes is drained after about 30 minutes.
There’s also relatively little comic relief to keep us laughing even when the action fails. I can’t think of a specific moment when I laughed at all, actually, although I’m sure it happened at least once. There are a few attempts at humor but they’ll likely only succeed if the viewer is under the age of 10. Any older and cynicism will be too prominent for the childish jokes to overcome. A good movie makes any audience cynicism irrelevant. An imitation of a good movie just promotes cynical behavior.
This is a shallow action movie — and worse than that: it’s a shallow Jackie Chan movie — so you shouldn’t expect deep characters, but at least some sort of depth would be appreciated. Jackie plays his typical “nice guy,” but lacking in much of the charm you might hope to see. Arthur and Nicole are stock characters; he is Eddie’s rival and friend, although they begin the film at odds for little reason. Nicole is the love interest and nothing more. The villain is barely in the picture and is about as threatening as a teddy bear.
I’ve glanced over the plot but it’s far sillier than I’ve made it sound. It involves traveling between dimensions, a dual-sided medallion whose one half grants superpowers while the other permits immortality. And somehow you can throw The Medallion and kill someone who has both these powers. That kind of pops up out of nowhere and provides a convenient conclusion. That shipping container scene I mentioned earlier makes no sense. If the villain wanted to capture the boy — he’s the only one who can make The Medallion work — then why try to drown him at sea?
Of course, thinking about a movie like The Medallion defeats the point. It’s dumb and has been created as disposable entertainment. The problem is that it’s just disposable, not entertaining. It’s missing Jackie Chan’s charm, his daring stunts, logic, characters, good action, strong special effects, humor — or really anything that might entertain you. Jackie Chan has done a number of films, and that means you have even less reason to watch this one.
The Medallion is a CGI-infested action-comedy whose action contains no stakes and whose comedy is juvenile to the extent that even older children will scoff at it, not laugh with it. It has almost nothing to like. Its characters come straight from the book of clichés, the hero is invincible for much of the film, meaning there is no reason to get excited during the action, and you can’t even be too impressed with Jackie Chan, as much of the stunts are aided with CGI or wires.