starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Robert Fyfe, Jim Broadbent
screenplay by David Titcher and David Benullo & David Andrew Goldstein, based on the novel by Jules Verne
directed by Frank Coraci
by Walter Chaw I've spent all the bile and disappointment I'm going to spend on Jackie Chan and what's become of possibly the biggest star on the planet since his relocation to Hollywood. The rumour that this iteration of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days is to be Chan's American swan song fuels the suspicion that even folks unfamiliar with the stuff that once earned Chan comparisons to Buster Keaton have begun to wish, like any majority culture member towards any outcast in any community, that they would stop taking the abuse and just go home. There must be a breaking point for Centurion scourers when pity (revulsion?) overtakes zeal for punishment, and the lengths to which Chan has voluntarily subjugated himself in the role of sidekick, comic relief, and yellow Stepin Fetchit have progressed beyond paternalistic bemusement into the raw area of salt into an open wound. The old Jackie Chan would have done this film and taken the role of Phileas Fogg--new Jackie Chan is content to be Kato. (Burt Kwouk's, not Bruce Lee's.) I was one of three Asians in a large high school in the middle of one of the whitest, most conservative states in the Union, where Chan bootlegs provided by one of South Federal's Vietnamese groceries were among my few lifelines to a positive Chinese media role model amidst all the Long Duck Dongs, Short Rounds, and Ancient Chinese Secret launderers. For me now to feel more apathy than outrage at Chan selling out--dancing, singing, and acting the fool for the charity of the dominant culture--represents a death of a lot of things essential about me. It happens this way: the tide of ignorance wins out not with a bang but with a whimper.