Around the World in 80 Days
Jackie Chan as Passepartout/Lau Xing
Steve Coogan as Phileas Fogg
Cecile De France as Monique La Roche
Karen Mok as General Fang
Jackie Chan, Jules Verne, 80 days, and 80 cameos, how could it lose? Apparently very very badly. Even the lovely Karen Mok cannot save this film. The worst part is, this could have been so great. All the pieces and potential is there, is just fails to materialize. This film is akin to working in chemistry lab, carefully adding every component to your reaction, then sitting in disappointment as it fails to do anything at all.
As part of Hollywood’s continuing inept tradition, Jackie Chan is paired with another non-Asian with who Jackie will become the clown to his arrogance. In this movie, it is British comedian Steve Coogan as Phileas Fogg. And Jackie Chan is Passepartout, whose real name is Lau Xing. (Just like in the book! Oh, wait….)
The movie opens with new to London Jackie stealing a Jade Buddha from the Bank of England. To avoid the encroaching police force, Jackie volunteers to be the new valet for one Phileas Fogg, inventor. This entails Jackie getting a rocket strapped to his back as a test to see that humans can survive speeds beyond 50 miles per hour. Unfortunately for Jackie this also involves him flying through the air uncontrollably. Meanwhile, the evil Lord Kelvin has made a deal with Chinese General Fang (played by the always beautiful Karen Mok) for land in China. General Fang is not pleased with the Buddha disappearing, especially since Lord Kelvin has decreed their deal frozen until the Jade Buddha is returned.
The Ministry of Science has their meeting, where Fogg is insulted for his radical ideas by Lord Kelvin and other stuffed shirt monocle wearers. When the subject of the robbery comes up, Fogg comments that someone could have made it all the way to China in a month. This eventually leads to a bet between Kelvin and Fogg, where Fogg is to encircle the globe in 80 days. Kelvin wagers his position as head of the Ministry of Science vs. Fogg giving up inventing forever. Jackie sees this as a good idea, since it will allow him to return home to China and return the Jade Buddha to his village from which it was stolen.
And it begins! After some brief trouble involving a police officer and a horseless carriage, our heroes make it to Paris for Day 2. Fang has sent some goons after Fogg and Jackie, so they hide in an art museum, where we get a crash course in Impressionism by Monique La Roche, complete with Van Gough cameo. The goons enter the Museum, and Jackie confronts them with Painting Fu. La Roche helps them escape via sewer. To escape their pursuers, they grab a hot air balloon and attempt to leave Paris that way, but instead incite a mob of Parisians to chase them, and Jackie dangles from a robe beneath the balloon while fighting off more of Fang’s goons, the Black Scorpions. Finally, after a flyby of the Moulin Rouge and Toulouse-Lautrec and Jackie being molested and his pants stolen by an amorous statue, they get out of town, and catch a train heading for Turkey. La Roche convinces Fogg to let her tag along for a while.
Day 10 — Istanbul. The train is stopped when Prince Hapi wishes to meet them. Prince Hapi is my governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger! Hapi immediately starts putting the moves on Miss La Roche, as he is looking for wife number 7. Fogg and Jackie hold a Rodin statue of Hapi hostage to secure her release, and escape Turkey running from the palace guards.
Day 24 — Train to Agra (in India, city where the Taj Mahal is). Lord Kelvin has sent out wanted posters to throughout the Empire, which leads to a large amount of security forces looking for our heroes when they arrive. They evade the cops via dresses (except for the policeman from Day one, who catches Jackie) but Fang has some agents in town also, a big man, and a female played by Maggie Q. Jackie has to fight the big bad guy while handcuffed to the policeman while Fogg and La Roche deal with Maggie Q. Aren’t you glad they stuck so rigidly to the novel? After they escape from that adventure, they can no longer go to any British port, because people will be looking for them. This eliminates India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and all the other stuff Britain owned then, but not mainland China, which is where they head. And They head towards Jackie’s village. Jackie meets with Sammo Hung, who plays Chinese legend Wong Fei Hung (who Jackie has also played), and returns the Jade Buddha. Everyone Feasts, and Fogg finds out Jackie was just using him to get back to China and gets angry, but everyone is captured by some Black Scorpion Troops.
Jackie has to fight the leader of the Black Scorpions that captured him, and after a while, his friends, the Ten Tigers of Kuangtuan and Sammo Hung show up, and there is a large Kung Fu fight, which was always my favorite part of the book. The day is saved, but Fogg goes off alone, still angry at Jackie.
Day 61 — San Francisco. Phileas Fogg gets robbed immediately upon arriving, and resorts to begging in the street. There he runs into Hobo Rob Schneider. Then he is rescued by Jackie and Miss La Roche, all is forgiven, and they head on to England.
Day 66 — Somewhere in the desert. Hey, look, it’s the Wilson brothers, playing the Wright Brothers.
Day 72 — New York City. Almost home, an Irish Policeman leads Our Heroes into a trap where General Fang is lying in wait (in the building where the Statue of Liberty is being stored before assembly). We are treated to another Kung Fu battle, a staple of every Verne work, my favorite was the Captain Nemo vs. sixteen Ninjas battle from 20,000 Leagues. At least Karen Mok is in these scenes. And so are her huge claw fingernails, which she uses when fighting Jackie, until they get smashed off. The movie really seems to drop in quality at this point, but don’t worry, it will soon get worse. After they escape from Fang and her men, they miss the boat to England and will not arrive home in time to win the bet.
Day 73 — Atlantic Ocean. The captain of the boat they do get on, who was de-nippled by a shark, recognizes Fogg, and tries to help by speeding up the voyage. But they run out of coal, and Fogg builds an airplane out of the ship and flies toward home. (Uh, yeah, they just rip apart a ship, try an untested flying machine, and leave the crew stranded in the ocean. And these are the good guys.) They land and are headed for the goal, when Lord Kelvin has them arrested with minutes to go. The deadline passes and they lose, but the cop who was chasing them around the world shows up and reveals Kelvin’s treachery. Soon the other Lords are telling everything, and Queen of England Kathy Bates has Kelvin arrested. And it turns out that because of the international date line, they had an extra day anyway. So Our Heroes win!
Bleh. This was terrible. It’s like they wrote the screenplay based on a comic book adaptation of the novel, then added lots of Kung Fu type fights. There isn’t much going for it. The few good points are: Karen Mok, the Counting down of days, Cecile De France, and Karen Mok. The bad points are: Fogg is annoying, most of the “comic” relief isn’t, the pace is way fast at some points. The Ugly points are: Chan and Coogan do not work well together, my Governor cannot act as a Turkish Prince, things seem to be getting around the world much faster than Our Heroes, why is there any Kung Fu in this movie? And not enough Karen Mok.
Rated 1/10 Molesting Statues
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