Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Though Jackie Chan’s ‘The Myth’ has been out in its origin country for a couple years now, it has only in the last couple of months managed to find its way to American shores via DVD which I find curious. I assume that Chan is still somewhat of a box office draw here in the states as those ‘Rush Hour’ flicks still seem to be raking in cash, but despite the epic nature and mammoth sized budget of ‘The Myth’ it was shuttled straight to video. Since I happened to love Direct-to-Video it’s no skin off my nose and I’m sure those movie executives in their corner offices know way more about the business of movies than I do but it would seem to me that this film was at least good enough to try to squeeze some theatrical shekels from an American audience.

Actually two separate films combined into one, ‘The Myth’ opens in ancient China with General Meng-Yi (Chan) escorting princess Ok-Soo (Hee-seon Kim) to her new home as concubine to the emperor when his battalion is attacked by rebel forces. A spectacular battle ensues which includes a horse donkey kicking a CGI fireball rock. General Meng-Yi manages to save the princess but in the process gets detached from his regiment leaving he and the princess to navigate the treacherous terrain back home alone.

This would all seem to be a series of dreams for present day archaeologist Jack Chan (Played by Jackie Chan if you hadn’t guessed) who is awoken by his good friend William (Tony Leung Ka Fai), a physicist who is trying to crack the mystery of defying gravity. Trust me when I tell you they try like hell make all these crazy plot points come together in a logical way. So William the scientist needs Jack the Archaeologist to go with him on a trip to India to get deep into some Indian tomb where some mystical man floats in the air or something.

In India William and Jack totally desecrate this cherished Indian relic which leads to another spectacular fight scene ending with Jack bobbing unconsciously in a river to the abode of this wise Indian cat (Ram Gobal Bajaj) who talks in riddles and secrets as wise Asians tend to do. ‘Who am I?’ Jack would ask. ‘You are only who think you can be.’ The wise Indian dude would retort. Hey, how about a STRAIGHT answer wise Indian dude, is that too much to ask for? The wise Indian dude also has fathered the world hottest woman in Samantha (Mallika Sherawat) who is also some kind of Kung Fu Master which leads to yet another spectacular Chan-esque fight sequence. Mind you, in between all these present day histrionics we are also shuttered back to ancient China to follow the exploits of General Meng-Yi who is becoming uncomfortably close to the emperor’s designated new concubine.

Eventually both worlds will come together where the present meets the past meets cosmic gravity defying meteorites meets immortality pills – something you’d though Pfizer would have patented by now. Naturally there’s a big fight scene to close out the show.

If it all sounds ridiculous it’s because it is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. Director Stanley Tong still has a long way to go to make up for directing ‘Mr. Magoo’ but he handles the numerous action sequences in this film quite well and considering the scope of the film during the Ancient era scenes, he does give them their prerequisite epic feel. The film is also blessed to have a pair of female leads who are as beautiful as beautiful can be with He-seon Kim representing a natural quiet calm graceful and effortless beauty as opposed to Mallika Sherawat whose femininity is completely different in that it is brash, bountiful, raw, athletic and gloriously over-developed. I should also mention actor Zhou Sun who plays the evil Professor Koo wears like the flyest white suit I’ve ever seen. I’m seriously buying me one of those and the matching cane that dude was sporting with that getup.

There are some problems with ‘The Myth’ that in creating two separate story lines, neither story line was ever able to get fully developed. Jackie Chan isn’t really a dramatic heroic actor and Tony Leung Ka Fai isn’t much of a comic actor, since they chose to make the natural comedian the heroic one and the naturally dramatic actor the comic relief so to speak. Something about seeing Mr. Chan in that Ancient generals helmet that just didn’t look quite right, as opposed to his fight with Korean actor Min-su Choi who looked right at home in his ancient Chinese gear. Chan does kill about half of China in this film, and in mighty bloody fashion I might add, which we all know is a drastic departure from most the action hero’s films. The narrative also becomes more preposterous the longer the movie goes on, but it is a fantasy so I suppose we have to expect some ridiculousness. But damn.

Still, even though Jackie Chan is like way over fifty I have no doubt that he could kick my ass just by thinking hard and if this film is any indication the man hasn’t lost a single step since the first time I saw him in ‘Cannonball Run’. Some of the epic feel of ‘The Myth’ is lost in the silliness of it all, but it’s still some grand entertainment and much better than the last set of American Buddy flicks that Chan has released recently. Yes, we’re talking to you Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson.

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