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THE MYTH (San wa) (HK)

  Publicity Stills of "The Myth"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Stanley Tong
Starring: Jackie Chan, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Kim Hee Seon, Choi Min Soo, Mallika Sherawat
RunTime: 2 hrs 5 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 29 September 2005


The year was BC221 when Qin Shi Huang - the first emperor of China started to build a royal tomb for himself despite his infatuation with immortality. Through the prodigious endeavours of more than 700,000 forced labourers, the mausoleum was completed 37 years later. Legend has it that, to ensure utmost secrecy, all those who worked on the project were buried alive with the dead emperor. There were no survivors.

Over the next two thousand years, historians, tomb-raiders, and happy-go-lucky adventurers alike have been homing on the royal treasure buried within, However, no one has ever succeeded in locating the entrance to the mausoleum. Thus, the bulk of the First Emperor’s treasure, including his much-fabled elixir of youth, remained intact.

Intrepid archeologist Jack (starring Jackie Chan) and ambitious scientist William (starring Tony Leung Ka Fai) set out on an adventure that would lead them to the greatest discovery in Chinese history. Their journey starts at Desar, India, where they stumble upon an ancient sword from the Qin dynasty and a magical gemstone that appears to be able to defy the force of gravity. The booty not only leads them to the mythical mausoleum, but it also connects Jack to his dark past life.

Through strange and provocative dreams, Jack sees himself reincarnated as Meng Yi, a general who fell for the First Emperor’s beautiful consort Ok Soo (starring Kim Hee Seon) some 2000 years ago. As Meng Yi commands his troops in an increasingly desperate war against rebels, he also has to battle his own inner desires in choosing between eternity love and loyalty, Returning to the present day , the final secret of the First Emperor is about to be revealed. The two adventurers successfully enter the Heavenly Palace, a fortress loaded with death traps and unspeakable evils, as Jack comes face-to-face with his past. Or is it really?

Movie Review:

When Jackie Chan proclaimed during his “The Myth” press conference last week that from now on he’s going to be different in his future movies. He strictly meant business, the audience no longer has the luxury to see the man rehashing his old formulas. In other words, his all-time successful “Police Story” and “Rush Hour” franchise is all in the past.

In “The Myth”, Jackie plays an archeologist named Jack whose recurring dreams about a Qin dynasty general and a beautiful consort (Kim Hee-Seon) greatly aroused his curiosity. At the same time, he is invited by his best friend William (Tony Leung Ka Fai in yet another thankless role) to embark on an expedition that will ultimately leads them to the legendary Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. And so as the story flows, the transition from the Qin Dynasty to the present and vice versa is apparent throughout the 2 hours duration. Jackie duals as General Meng Yi, a brave respected general who can easily command a huge troop under his wing. Seeing him in his General’s armour is convincing enough but hearing him spout lyrical dialogues has the audience in stitches instead. That’s mistake number one.

If you are a fan of Jackie Chan and Stanley Tong, the combination of these two biggest names in the action arena will have you enthralled in anticipation. Their debut collaboration “Supercop” has the streets of KL in chaos, “Rumble in the Bronx” showcased Jackie Vs hard-hitting street hooligans and with “CIA Strikes Back”, the action factor powered up to an all-time high, it’s James Bond without the effects. To be frank, Director Stanley Tong is less credible when it comes to script-writing, his forte is more geared towards choreographing breath-taking action sequences. Crippled with Jackie’s urge to do a more romance-oriented action piece, Stanley has to strip “The Myth” potential action pieces to the minimal. And that contributes to mistake number two.

Coincidentally, in “The Myth”, you might spot several familiar elements. It’s as if Stanley and his screenwriting team has collated pointers from Ching Siu-Tung’s “A Terracotta Warrior”, Michelle Yeoh’s “The Touch” and even Jackie’s “Armour of God”. The end result is a rumbling mess of mythical and romance. While Jackie has made a name for himself by executing the most daredevil stunts onscreen, the clumsily effects laden finale for this movie however is a yawn-inducing affair. It’s a chore to watch in fact. To add insult to injury, the supposedly twist in the end can be classified into “Ripley’s believe it or not!” Thus a combination of these two disappointing elements gave you Killer mistake number three.

Despite the aforementioned mistakes, the few redeemable things to note are the battle sequences involving hundreds of extras and horses, the shots are majestic and the exotic locations in China are breath-taking. Shots of Jackie taking on battalions of battling soldiers are handled with much impressed hard-hitting battle style not seen previously in JC movies. Innovatively making use of clothing and shoes to move on the sticky conveyor belt, the “rat-glue” action piece is the usual comic routine normally found in Jackie Chan’s movies. But hey, the Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin inspired humour is why we loved Jackie’s movies in the first place.

Kim Hee-Seon (the Korean actress from “Bichunmoo”) is remarkably enchanting as Ok Soo, the first emperor’s consort who wished to live carefree with General Meng Yi. Despite her handicapped in Chinese, she managed to convey her lovelorn desires opposite her numerous scenes with Jackie. In fact, it’s Jackie himself who seems uncomfortably out of place. And sexy siren Mallika Sherawat who conspicuously appeared for less than a quarter of the total screentime can only be labeled purely as eye-candy. Tony Leung’s sidekick character is pathetically as lifeless as a caricature can get. Admittedly, it’s sad to say that pop singer Alan Tam’s sidekick character in “Armour of God” was far more superior.

Jackie has come a long way since his days of “Drunken Master”, “Police Story”, and “Supercop” in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Venturing into Hollywood with “Rush Hour” and “Shanghai Noon” is a risk worth taking. However, his return to his good old territory unfortunately yields disappointing results for his die-hard supporters. As much as the audience respects his decision to be more creative, his new venture just doesn’t goes down as well.

Movie Rating:

(Jackie's foray into the romance action genre is nothing short of groundbreaking. In fact, it's merely a scratch on the surface.)

Review by Linus Tee


. Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon (2008)

. An Empress And The Warriors (2008)

. The Curse of the Golden Flowers (2006)

. A Battle of Wits (2006)

. The Promise (2005)

. Seven Swords (2005)

. House of Flying Daggers (2004)



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