Promisingly, The Medallion is a Hong Kong co-production where Jackie Chan has placed himself in the directorial hands of Gordon Chan who put Jackie through his paces before in Dragons Forever (1988) and Thunderbolt (1995) and elsewhere made the hit hard-boiled action film Beast Cops (1998). Also on board to choreograph the action is Jackies long-time friend Sammo Hung, a celebrated Hong Kong star and director in his own right. Unfortunately, while it goes some way towards recapturing classic Jackie Chan, The Medallion is a sad misfire and proved a total damp squib with audiences.
During the early scenes, the plot seems to skip between action scenes without much connection. A glance through the deleted scenes on the dvd extras shows a number of scenes that ended on the cutting room floor, which give the film a good deal more coherence in terms of explaining the background to the prickly relationship between Jackie Chan and Lee Evans, exactly what the Chosen One and medallion are, and especially regarding the people smuggling plot that Chan and Evans are meant to be pursuing at the start. These omitted scenes at least let us know what the action during the early scenes is meant to be about. The effect of their removal, however, is of a film that has had too much meat stripped from its bones and hangs hollowly together between the audience pleasing comedy and action, but makes little sense on a wider level beyond that.
Gordon and Jackie dont entirely disappoint though there are some adeptly choreographed acrobatic chases through the streets and dockyards of Dublin. However, the film starts to flag considerably during the latter half when we get Jackie Chan superhero. One has been able to enjoy most of the films martial arts sequences up to that point but the scenes with Jackie jumping around, accidentally tearing things off and the like are not particularly funny and, worse, are routine superheroics. There is little to the comedy side of the film. The character of Watson, played by British stand-up comic Lee Evans, is an obvious comic foil. Some of the scenes with he and Jackie talking about being on top and doing it by yourself being interpreted as gay banter by Evans colleagues fall excruciatingly flat. Claire Forlani shines with a natural and classy elegance but The Medallions failure is that it fails to find anything to do with her.
The other surprise about The Medallion is how much the story reworks the Eddie Murphy vehicle The Golden Child (1986). In both films, there is the plot of the chosen child who has godlike abilities; the hero who is innocently caught up in the midst of the action; while Julian Sands has been cast in the equivalent of Charles Dances quasi-supernatural evildoer. The Golden Child was one of Hollywoods first attempts to copy Hong Kongs Wu Xia cycle but ended up a miserable failure that was caught between being an Eddie Murphy comedy and a Hong Kong-styled fantasy being made by a director who failed to understand the slightest thing about the genre. The Medallion at least does the job of returning The Golden Child to its basics and giving it the much more authentic flavour of a Hong Kong film.