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The Medallion
   |    review by Kozo    |     review by Magicvoice     |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     |   
AKA: Highbinders
Year: 2003
Director: Gordon Chan Car-Seung
Producer: Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting, Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Bill Borden, Tim Kwok, Albert Yeung, Candy Leung, Rick Nathanson
Writer: Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting, Bennet Joshua Davlin, Gordon Chan Car-Seung, Paul Wheeler, Bey Logan
Action: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Cast: Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Christy Chung Lai-Tai, John Rhys Davies, Johann Myers, Alex Bao, Lau Siu-Ming, Diana C. Weng, Chow Pok-Fu, Chan Tat-Kwong, Wai Cheung-Mak, Bruce Khan, Edison Chen, Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting, Carl Ng Ka-Lung, Reuben Langdon
The Skinny: Probably not as bad as everyone says it is, though honestly, that's not saying much. Fun in spots, but a complete embarrassment otherwise. Jackie Chan has done better films.
Review
by Kozo:

     Jackie Chan and pal Gordon Chan earn a trip to remedial filmmaking school for The Medallion, a film which isn't as terrible as advertised, but is a waste of celluloid nonetheless. Chan is Eddie Yang, a Hong Kong cop who journeys to Ireland to save a young boy (Alex Bao) who holds the key to a mysterious medallion. This magical trinket - dubbed the "Holy Grail of the East" despite having zero cultural significance whatsoever - grants certain individuals wacky immortality and nifty superpowers. What that means is major bastard Snakehead (Julian Sands, who looks incredibly bored) is after the Medallion, but Eddie Yang will get first crack at using it. When given over to the Medallion's untold powers, Eddie gains the ability to take fatal damage, fly through the air, and generally do all sorts of things normal humans cannot do. He also gains license to engage in dubious romantic interplay (with a miscast, or possibly slumming Claire Forlani), lame buddy banter (with comic Lee Evans, who appears to be acting in a separate film), and myraid untold special effects-enhanced action sequences. Those seeking any semblance of intelligence need not apply.
     In all fairness, The Medallion is not as terrible as some may make it out to be. While possessing a shallow storyline, uninteresting script, nonexistent characters and a blatant disregard for intelligence, The Medallion can at least provide some measure of background chatter for those inclined to seeing ANYTHING with Jackie Chan. That's a pretty meager accolade, but one which probably fits Chan's pre-teen audience, who might find the film's charms similar to 90% of the live-action junk they get fed by Nickelodeon. As a live-action cartoon for those with nonexistent attention spans, The Medallion does its job well enough. Fans of The Tuxedo might find the same brain-dead, low-brow entertainment value here, which, by the way, is not a recommendation. If anything, acknowledging the fast-food film culture of most non-discerning Blockbuster Video members is an accepted reality.
     That said, Chan's oldest fans probably will have no use for The Medallion whatsoever. And if they do, it's only as a measuring stick for how far Chan is from his adrenaline-fueled cinema heyday. Aside from using special effects to enhance his moves, Chan looks noticeably older, and his romance with Claire Forlani seems completely forced and even a little creepy. HK Cinema luminaries Anthony Wong and Christy Chung are wasted in unnecessary supporting roles, and director Gordon Chan further distances himself from his Beast Cops glory. Like Gen-Y Cops and China Strike Force, this is another film which shows that Hong Kong can't really ape the soulless, prepackaged glitz of Hollywood. They're better off coming up with their own soulless, prepackaged glitz ala Heroic Duo or even The Twins Effect. Yes, those films weren't so hot, but at least they weren't embarassing. And The Medallion, regardless of its kiddie fun factor, IS an embarrassment. (Kozo 2003)

Alternate Review
Review
by
Magicvoice:

     Inspector Eddie Yang (Jackie Chan) is an HK cop working with Interpol to catch international smuggler Snakehead (Julian Sands). Snakehead's latest endeavor is to obtain a magical medallion, which can bestow immortality through its owner, a young boy hailed as "the chosen one." Eddie is killed saving the boy from Snakehead and receives the mystical gift for his sacrifice.
     The Medallion—originally titled Highbinders before its current, more apt title—boasts a great pool of talent and a huge budget. It's too bad, then, that the script isn't any good because it basically renders the film a waste of everyone's time. The relationship between Eddie and bumbling Interpol officer Arthur Watson (played annoyingly by the over-the-top Lee Evans) is schizophrenic. At first, they are rivals and suddenly they are best friends. It is a shallow attempt to recreate the chemistry Chan had with Owen Wilson in the Shanghai Noon/Knights series but it simply lacks the development to make it convincing. There is one humorous scene when Arthur repeatedly stabs Eddie in an effort to explore the ramifications of his newfound gift but otherwise, the film is seriously slim in the laughs department. We are also supposed to believe that Eddie once had a relationship with Officer Nicole James (Claire Forlani), but that sub-plot lacks credibility too, despite Forlani's best efforts.
     The bad guys fare poorly, too. Julian Sands could have phoned this one in, as his performance is full of the same greedy sneers and pompous verbosity that have graced his work for the last decade. Whatever promise held by the casting of Anthony Wong as Snakehead's accomplice, Lester, is totally wasted. The part is badly dubbed and Wong has very little to do other than stand around and look cool.
     The same is true for Christy Chung, who plays Arthur's wife Charlotte. In an interesting twist, it is revealed that Charlotte believes her husband to be a librarian. She knows nothing of his work as an agent and she appears to be a devoted housewife. When Snakehead sends his goons to Arthur's house to find Eddie, Charlotte reveals some secrets of her own and vanquishes the enemy with incredible skill. Is she also hiding a secret life from her spouse? Unfortunately, that plot point is dropped as quickly as it is raised, and the issue is never resolved.
     The action is well choreographed but is more focused on special effects than the real ability of the actors. The ever-present charm of Chan remains firmly in place in The Medallion, but he is clearly past his prime physically. Maybe he should stick to finding better scripts in order to compensate for what he can no longer do with his body. The Medallion is a perfect example of the old saying "If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage." (Magicvoice 2003)

Notes:

• Despite the film's apparent Hollywood feel and wide US release, The Mediallion IS a Hong Kong film. Jackie Chan and those marketing mavens at the Emperor Multimedia Group (the braintrust behind the Twins, Edison Chen and probably a patented form of brainwashing) bankrolled this stinker, and the vast majority of the crew (director Gordon Chan, cinematographer Arthur Wong, among others) are from Hong Kong. However, the lack of Hollywood grooming is no excuse for this film turning out as bad as it did.

Awards: 23rd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Nomination - Best Action Design (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo)
• Nomination - Best Visual Effects (Paddy Eason, Merrin Jensen, Lar Johansson & Matthew Gidney)
Availability:

DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen / Pan and Scan
English Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Trailer

   
 
 
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