Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Myth

Lowdown: Jackie Chan does an Indiana Jones.
Raiders of the Lost Ark and its immediate sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, are both films that shook the very foundations of the world of cinema. Copycats did not wait long before starting to pop out: in 1985 we’ve had King Solomon’s Mines starring Richard Chamberlain and a then unfamiliar Sharon Stone, 1989 brought us Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and 2008 had us with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Common to all these later sequels is their mediocrity and overall crappy nature. The Myth, a 2005 production from Hong Kong, happily joins this tradition of crap remakes based on the original theme. It does have one ace up its sleeve, though: Jackie Chan.
Whereas Raiders had some Jewish folklore at its background and Temple has some Indian one, The Myth capitalizes on Chinese folklore to tell its Indiana Jones tale. That implies the action involves martial arts and lots of people flying on ropes.
Jackie Chan plays a modern day archaeologist (don’t say he’s totally identical to the original: Indy was set some seventy years earlier) who suffers from dreams where he’s an ancient Chinese general out to save a young princess from all sorts of evildoers. A physicist friend of Chan's recruits him to help find a mythical anti gravity device somewhere in India. They go there, the friend steals the ancient artifact, and as can be expected this sets of a chain reaction of chaos and baddies as everyone strives to uncover this myth that’s slowly developing.
The problem is in the way that myth is developed. There are many inconsistencies in the plot, and often you don’t really understand why our heroes got to where they are. It doesn’t matter, though, because the whole Myth is just an excuse to let Chan apply his charm through action scenes choreographed in the action/comedy style that won him his reputation. We’ve seen them before, but he is genuinely good!
As good as Chan is, his talents are not enough to render The Myth good. The whole affair lays on some very shaky foundations, relying on reincarnations to advance the plot and having us move back and forth between the modern world and Chan’s ancient flashback dreams. Flashbacks hardly ever work well, but in The Myth they work horribly.
Then there are the cheap digital effects. I can live with those, but why do they have to repeat them again and again (as with Chan’s horse kicking back at baddies)?
Still, by far the worst offence made by The Myth is with numerous characters, scientists and Chan included, telling us again and again that science cannot explain everything, that science takes second place to myths, and that science cannot be relied upon. That’s more than a bit cheeky coming from a film that couldn’t have been made without some pretty modern science.
Best modern scene: Chan & Co fight it out with the baddies on top of a conveyer belt. The scene would have been a carbon copy of the conveyer belt fight from Temple of Doom if it wasn’t for the belt being made of very strong glue (thus setting the scene for some typical Chan pirouetting) and the scene's happier ending.
Best flashback scene: Chan the ancient Chinese general fights on his own against a whole army of infantry men. Upon the culmination of the fight we find him standing a top a mountain of his enemies’ bodies. Cool.
Overall: The myth is a very bad film that is occasionally saved by a Jackie Chan action scene. 2 out of 5 stars.

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