Around the World in 80 Days (2003)
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Synopsis: Yet another remake of the Jules Verne classic, this time with Jackie as Passepartout, a Chinese adventurer who robs the Bank of England in order to retrieve a precious religious artifact that was stolen from his village in China.

The only way he can think of to evade the police and make it back to his own country is to provoke eccentric inventor Phileas Phogg (Steve Coogan) into accepting a bet with the Minister of Science to traverse the globe in 80 days. Accompanying Phogg as his valet and assistant, Passepartout makes his way home to China: along the way they meet the beautiful and charming Monique (CÚcile de France), who follows them for the rest of their journey.

Homer J's Review:After the disappointment of The Medallion, Around the World in 80 Days is certainly a marked improvement, however it still skirts the region of mediocrity that Jackie's movies seems to be slumped in at present. The growing consensus seems to be the longer he performs these type of roles in Hollywood (i.e. the sidekick whose ethnicity is seen to be the predominant character trait rather than the character itself) then the further Jackie's career will slide.

ATWI80D certainly isn't a bad film however it is frustrating at the same time for having some worthwhile aspects undermined by some pretty apalling ones. As an example of butchering a literary classic you probably couldn't find a better example than this film (no doubt Jules Verne would be rolling over in his grave 20,000 leagues down below somewhere). Look no further than the insipid way Jackie's character of Passepartout is "created" in this version, plotting at its most desparate.

The acting from the main players is fairly good, Jackie is basically Jackie these days although he still retains that charm that makes you forgive his never ending difficulty with the dialogue he has to speak. Both Steve Coogan and Cecile de France perform their roles with gusto and come off favourably which is more than can be said for "The Governator's" cameo (quite impressive to note that even Mr. Schwarzeneggar can be upstaged by his own "hairpiece" in a movie - simply the best piece of inanimate object acting since "Wilson" in "Castaway"). Special mention should also go to Ewen Bremner who manages to take OTT acting o the next level and have it register on the Richter scale - his constant loud delivery and ridiculous pratfalling making a mockery of the audience for trying to convince anyone that it could be perceived as funny. Hey, I'm all for a bit of slapstick, however I would prefer not to be bludgoned in the head with it.

However, one cannot fault the production values in this film - the vast budget was spent in some wondrous locales (the section in China being particularly breathtaking) along with great set and costume design. The neat little animated sketches between each segment of the journey were also wonderful for their sheer exuberant colour and reminded me of the heyday of the of the mid 20th century Technicolor classics such as the Wizard of Oz, I was half expecting to see a yellow brick road crop up somewhere.

The action scenes are light affairs, heavy on the comedy and prop usage that typify Jackie's fight scenes of late. Complaint can rarely be made though as this is where you are fairly certain the film will get it right, and AWI80D is no exception with some lovely inventive choreography on display. However, once the film shifts into Chinese territory, Jackie moves into a higher gear almost as if taking advantage of a "homecoming" of sorts and shows us he can still surprise us after all these years. The section where he fights with the bench was something not seen since Drunken Master 2 almost ten years ago and was almost worth the price of the movie alone for this particlar fan. Addtionally, like Debbie, seeing a familar rotund face in the village was really a superb bonus even though it was brief at best.

What seems a little sad though is that many fans (myself included) keep referring back to earlier movies with little attention it seems placed on his recent or current efforts. It seems as though he has hit a brick wall in the type of actor he has become (at least in Hollywood). Perhaps having finally realised this himself he has gone back to his roots and filmed New Police Story in his native Hong Kong to try and remind everyone he is not simply the kung fu sidekick/cultural fish out of water. If Jackie wishes to be taken seriously as an actor in the mainstream American movie industry then it appears he will have to ditch the generic roles he has become synonymous with in his Hollywood offerings and take some chances on riskier material.

 But enough of the soapbox shennanigans, ATWI80D remains a fairly enjoyable experience despite some glaring flaws, an example of a glossy, sugar coating trying to account for a rather hollow centre. But sugar is still sugar.

Debbie's Review: I wasn't expecting very much from yet another of Jackie's ventures into Hollywood, but I was pleasantly entertained by this light summer fare. It's a nice little family movie with lots to like if you're not terribly demanding, and not judging it by Jackie's usual action standards. The comedy isn't hold-your-sides hilarious or anything, but it's good for a smile or two. The cameos of famous Hollywood celebs vary from painful (Arnold Swarzenegger) to delightful (Owen and Luke Wilson as the Wright Brothers), but there's one cameo that makes the whole movie a must see for any true JC fanatic.

Steve Coogan and the adorably cute CÚcile de France were both entertaining in their roles, and neither of them threatened to overshadow Jackie, but it still felt like he was merely the side-kick and not the star of the film. The script really didn't give him much scope for his trademark comic acting, or give him a chance to charm the audience as we know he is so expert at doing.

For a true JC fanatic, the best part of the movie will without question be the segment that takes place in Passepartout's village in China. I almost cried with joy to see a familiar face in the village...I won't say who, for those of you who hate spoilers, but I wish he'd had lots more scenes. The action in this segment was actually a painful reminder of what Jackie is still capable of: an exciting fight scene with eye-popping moves and graceful martial arts. Even at 50 Jackie can still deliver the goods. I wished this part of the movie could have gone on forever, even the cinematography and scenery at this point was light years better than the rest of the film.

Go see it with low expectations, and you'll have a good time.

Oh, one last warning: NO outtakes!! WHAT is Disney thinking? A small group of diehards (including of course myself) waited til the very last credit rolled, vainly hoping to see the outtakes. We went home dejected and disappointed. BAD Disney, BAD.

Score: 6.5/10


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