Watching 'The Medallion' is like listening to a middle-school kid trying to summarize the plot without revealing the entire movie. There's lots of enthusiasm and excitement behind the telling, making the whole thing seem like loads of fun. And although we can gather the gist of what it's all about, we can't help but feel there are things missing, leaving a great deal to be desired. One of them is the reason why anyone watches a Jackie Chan movie in the first place. Without the wild-eyed buffoonery and death-defying stunts, what's the point of seeing the Hong Kong martial artist in a goofy action comedy?
It may seem like I'm embellishing things somewhat. But really, I'm not. We only have a couple stunts where Mr. Chan gives the audience some cool athletic feats, yet they're not as impressive or worthwhile as in his other movies, before or since. Such as when he chases a 70s-retro henchman through the streets of Dublin, the best we're given is Chan scaling an iron gate and squeezing through a small hole at the top. The rest of the movie is just a load of camera trickery, amateur CGI effects, and wired acrobatics. A fight sequence which leaves a hospital in shambles is one such debacle — later upstaged by the film's finale.
This is the reason the movie feels like it's being told to the audience while leaving out all the good stuff, like the physical action and fights. In the course of filming a story about some kid who can unlock the superhuman powers of a legendary medallion, the filmmakers forgot to simply point the camera at Chan and wait for him to pull off an outrageous, attention-grabbing stunt. Just when it looks like we're about to see something awesome, the camera actually becomes an obstruction. We can't accurately make out much of the close-contact action while the editing never loiters on shot long enough for us to witness a crazy feat.
The tediousness and strain of watching 'The Medallion' is further exacerbated by the annoying performance of Lee Evans. His sap-headed antics as the Interpol Agent halfwit, Arthur Watson, come off as the sort of desperate attempts at comedy only the youngest viewers in the audience would find remotely amusing. Also, being the always-disgruntled sidekick to Chan's more competent detective, I wonder if the character's surname is meant as a clever jab at another pair of super sleuths battling a supernatural force. But that would imply a great deal of intellect and forethought in a script that was handled by five separate writers. And the chances of that appear quite small in this brisk 88-minute film.
Amid the muddled mess of what is ultimately a weak plot, the filmmakers introduce Claire Forlani as a British agent helping in the investigation and who happens to be a former squeeze of Chan's Eddie. The attempt is made to show her as a strong female character, but sadly, her role actually has the limited range of "love interest" or "victim in need of rescue." The only time she's seen as strong is during a literal catfight with a female criminal. Julian Sands, probably best known as the Warlock, also makes an appearance as the cardboard cutout evil villain, and John Rhys-Davies is pretty much some guy yelling out orders to everyone.
In the end, 'The Medallion' is about as satisfying an action-comedy movie as listening to a middle-school kid tell the whole thing in a quarter of the time.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment brings 'The Medallion' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 inside a blue eco-vortex keepcase. At startup, the disc goes straight to a main menu with full-motion clips and music.
Jackie Chan's action-comedy flop takes a swing and a miss on Blu-ray, looking terribly digitized for the most part but also showing some HD goodness in a few spots.
Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the AVC-encoded transfer displays lots of bold colors, especially in the primaries, and good flesh tones with some revealing facial complexions in close-up. Blacks are consistent, but some scenes tend to crush and murk-up the minor edges of objects. The video is nicely detailed with several strong, distinct sequences, save for the poorly-resolved ones which noticeably standout. Worst aspects of the picture are the slightly boosted contrast levels, which brightens the image, and the artificial sharpening, which causes quite a bit of ringing throughout.
The transfer comes with a visible soap-opera effect, making it an average presentation overall.
For this high-def release of 'The Medallion,' Image Entertainment shockingly downgrades the audio channels from a Dolby Digital 5.1 heard on the DVD to an uncompressed PCM Stereo soundtrack found on this Blu-ray.Confusing as this may sound, the effect of the audio change makes the movie feel rather hollow and squeezed into the front. Granted, pans and movement are smooth with relatively decent channel separation, but overall imaging seems feeble and lacks a boisterous appeal to match action sequences. Dynamic range is pretty much with nothing really distinct or standout, and low-frequency effects fail to give gunshots and explosions a convincing punch. Only appreciable aspects are the clean, intelligible vocals, though ADR is fairly obvious, and the zany, cartoonish musical cues heard throughout.
All in all, the lossless mix is disappointing.
For this Blu-ray edition of 'The Medallion,' Image borrows the same set of bonus features from the Sony DVD release a few years back.
Qualifying as one of the worst in the Jackie Chan collection of action comedies, 'The Medallion' is a mess of a movie with few of the physical exploits expected of a Chan flick, not to mention any of the humor. Other than being hindered by a weak plot, the martial-arts film also suffers from bad acting, poor character development, terrible editing, and dreadfully unfocused direction. The Blu-ray arrives with a nice pop to the video, but looks quite artificial and average overall, with an audio presentation that's sadly no better. Supplements are forgettable additions, making the package one which will not be remembered or missed.