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Published: Friday, 8/22/2003

Movie review: The Medallion **

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It had to happen.

Jackie Chan obviously saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

In The Medallion, the Hong Kong action star not only defies gravity with his trademark action moves, but he often is immune to the pull of Earth, fighting in trees and in midair. When he does fall to the pavement from long distances, he peels himself up and pops back into shape, much like Wyle E. Coyote does when bested by the Road Runner. Don't try this at home, kids.

Chan runs hot and cold. His previous movie, Shanghai Knights, was a lot of fun. The one before that was leaden. The Medallion, unfortunately, falls into the leaden category.

It may have a lot to do with the co-stars. In Shanghai Knights, Chan was ably assisted by the always amiable Owen Wilson, a lovable con man. In Medallion, the sidekick duties go to British comedian Lee Evans (Mouse Hunt, Funny Bones), who is more a target of humiliation than lovable.

It may have a lot to do with the co-stars. In Shanghai Knights, Chan was ably assisted by the always amiable Owen Wilson, a lovable con man. In Medallion, the sidekick duties go to British comedian Lee Evans (Mouse Hunt, Funny Bones), who is more a target of humiliation than lovable.

Chan's love interest is British actress Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black), who is pleasant to look at but has little charisma.

Chan again plays a Hong Kong police inspector, Eddie Yang. This time he's assisting an Interpol squad, led by Arthur Watson (Evans) with the hunt for and capture of Snakehead (Julian Sands), a mysterious international criminal.

The capture goes awry, but Yang gets a look at Snakehead. This makes him invaluable to the investigation, much to the disgust of Watson, who blames Yang for botching the job.

They follow Snakehead to Ireland, where they are joined by Nicole James (Forlani), also an Interpol agent, and learn that Snakehead is after a medallion that bestows immortality. The medallion is in the keeping of “the chosen,” a young boy whom Snakehead's minions have kidnapped.

During the course of the action, both Eddie and Snakehead die and are reanimated by the medallion, investing them with superhuman powers and setting up the lighter-than-air battle, which is so hokey you can almost see the wires on which the performers are suspended.

This is a bewildering surprise. Chan is known for his intricately choreographed martial arts, so one might have expected him to take such Crouching Tiger moves to a new level. Instead, he settles for less, much less.

As does the whole movie. The story is trite, the performances basic, and the action bargain basement. Chan, it appears, is getting tired, and he's making movies by the numbers.

A few surprises enliven the dull proceedings and make The Medallion somewhat entertaining, but only in a let's-rent-a-video sort of way.

Jackie, Jackie. Maybe it's time for a vacation.



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