Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 9th, 2003
The plot, such as it is, involves a mysterious medallion that, wielded by its child guardian,can convey supernatural power and eternal life. Julian Sands, phoning in a Creepy English BadGuy performance, wants the child and the medallion. He goes after the child first in Hong Kong,and then in Dublin (where, strangely, we do not encounter a single Irish person). Opposing himare Interpol agents Jackie Chan, Claire Forlani, and a bumbling Lee Evans. Chan is killedmidway …hrough the picture, but is resurrected with enormously enhanced wire-fighting andundercranked-camera abilities.
Most of the film consists of a series of kidnappings and rescues, and nothing makes a wholelot of sense. But this is a Jackie Chan film, and you don’t watch these for the acting or the plot.You watch them for the fight scenes. And this is the real letdown. Jackie Chan’s appeal has longbeen a combination of his cheerful, engaging screen presence (and this is still very much inevidence), and his jaw-dropping stunts. We are amazed by the best of his films because there isno CGI or wire-work involved: the man is REALLY doing these things. But here, boring wirework and extremely lame CGI are all-too-obvious. Furthermore, the fact that Chan was alreadyjumping about in impossible ways before his character dies makes his abilities afterwards lessstartling. Lee Evans is numbingly unfunny, stuck with a bumbling schtick that was old when LouCostello was at it. Claire Forlani has a largely thankless role (though it is at least better than JohnRhys-Davies’ nothing of a part), and though she does get her own half-decent fight scene in, herduel with another woman is kicked off with a “meow” sound cue – a trogloditic move I haven’tencountered since the classic sleaze of 1962′s The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.Depressing.
What stands out here is the score, from both a good and bad perspective. The orchestralmusic has a big, expansive feel, and more often than not the musical cues take the place of actualsound effects. Notice, for instance, the way the music exploits the 5.1 and does a 360 around theroom when the medallion first lights up in the opening sequence. The electronica pieces,however, lack energy, and need a lot more power in the bass. Thus, the first battle between thesupernaturally-powered Sands and Chan, scored to Cirrus’ “Break the Madness” feels ratherlifeless when it should be energizing. The environmental effects could be stronger as well,though there are nice “whoosh” sounds and echoes coming out of the rear speakers. Some of thegunshots are a little overenthusiastic, however.
The picture comes in both fullscreen and 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen aspects. The coloursare strong, though the reds are greens are a bit too neon at times: some blood in the openinglooks like radioactive jello, and the greens of Ireland look more plastic than natural. There is nograin (except in a couple of shots), but there is a slight green to the edges. The image is nicelysharp.
It is perhaps fitting that this soulless product has a commentary not by the director or the star,but by the co-executive producer (Bill Borden) and the editor (Don Brochu). When they are notpointing out the bleedingly obvious, they do discuss a lot of behind-the-scenes aspects. Theediting details can get quite technical. There are 15 deleted scenes (looking very rough). Finally,there are trailers for The Medallion, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, TheOne and XXX. The menu is basic.
It’s sad, but North America finally discovered Jackie Chan just as his prime was ending. Theevidence is depressingly clear here.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes