Sony // 2005 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // November 2nd, 2007
Some Legends Are Immortal.
Jackie Chan in an historical epic where he kills people? Weird but true. Jackie Chan's The Myth is an interesting foray by Chan out of his Buster Keaton-esque style and into more serious fare. Unfortunately, it is not a successful venture. Poor acting, a garbled story, too much melodrama, and an overall lack of execution undermine this Hero meets Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade meets Dead Again hybrid.
Jack (Chan) is an archaeologist who has been having strange dreams of ancient China. In his dreams, he is ancient General Meng-yi, sent by the emperor to collect a princess, Ok-soo (Hee-seon Kim). Is it a dream or a past life? In looking for the answer to his dreams, Jack gets caught up with evil tomb raiders, gravity-suspending stones(!?), and immortality pills!?!?
The best way to describe The Myth is that it is a jack of all trades and a master of nothing. Fantasy, romance, action, comedy, historical...it tries to be everything. Also, the switching between past and present is clunky, distracting and derailing the movie. It's mainly because the storylines are not linked strongly until the end; until that point, it feels as though two separate films have been spliced together rather inelegantly. Further, when the two stories begin to overlap the film descends into ridiculous sequences involving people flying, and immortals. And then there is the moment that the film turns in a music video for a few minutes. It's simply too much to bear.
That said, this is a Jackie Chan film, so there are action scenes aplenty. However, the results are decidedly mixed. There are standard Chan comedic action sequences. The most entertaining sequence is a fight on the conveyor belt of a mousetrap factory. The worst is an extremely poor scene involving Chan's horse kicking enemy soldiers.
Also, The Myth contains a surprising amount of bloodshed for a Chan film. In the climax of the Meng-yi storyline, Chan kills an absurd number people.
The acting is erratic, mostly on the bad side. Woeful dialogue is partly to blame. More importantly, for me, Chan is not credible in a serious role. He is a comedian. In the role of Meng-yi he appears stiff and morose when he wants to be stern and stoic. It's not a believable performance. Kim is well cast as Ok-soo, but isn't required to do much. The rest of the acting captures varying degrees of campiness, which sometimes succeeds and sometimes does not.
Technically, the film is quite good. The video transfer is crisp, bright and detailed. However, during an early sequence where Chan is escaping from a temple, there appears to some vertical stretching of the film, causing some blurriness at the top and bottom of the picture. The sound is excellent.
The extras are lackluster. There is a gushing commentary by Chan that lacks insight. It also suffers from stretches of silence that increase in frequency as the film goes on. Then there is a standard making-of featurette with an interview with Chan. The two remaining featurettes are basically infomercials. The first is an advertisement for a swami who gives lectures to corporations. The second is a plug for a charity run by Jackie Chan. Last, there are six forgettable deleted scenes and two music videos for the film's theme song "Endless Love."
This isn't the worst movie Chan has made by any stretch of the imagination; Rumble In The Bronx was pretty silly. Those who think Chan can do no wrong, and/or have longed to see him in an historical, highly melodramatic, epic-fantasy film will find plenty of reasons to like this movie.
Jackie Chan is a likeable actor and I typically enjoy his films. However, The Myth is a mess. By trying to fit itself into almost every conceivable genre it ends up serving none of them well.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Chinese)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Commentary by Jackie Chan
* "Myth Adventures" Featurette
* "Will the Real Swami Stand Up?" Featurette
* "Jackie's Kids" Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* "Endless Love" Music Video (Film Version)
* "Endless Love" Music Video Mandarin Pop Version