Published Jun 01, 2004The remake of Around the World in 80 Days is a bizarre film, with far more emphasis on Chinese warlords than the original (which had, um, none). This version has Jackie Chan in the role of Passepartout, the "French" valet who is really Chinese and trying to return to his village with a valuable statue that had been stolen from them. He uses inventor Phileas Fogg's (Steve Coogan of 24 Hour Party People) around the world journey to ferry the precious item home, while Scotland Yard and scores of martial artists are in hot pursuit. Along the way they pick up a beautiful French painter (Cécile de France), meet scores of historically significant folks and get in countless ass-kicking fights.
It's a silly idea, melding the plot (and most of the cast) of Shanghai Knights with Jules Verne's classic tale, and it makes for an equally silly movie. The violence is plentiful, perhaps too much so for a children's film, although it's cartoon-ish and strictly hand to hand. The visuals are at their best when showing Fogg's wonky world of inventions and are at their worst when they slip into cheesy animated transition sequences far to reminiscent of the opening of CBC's Wonderful World of Disney program. Jackie Chan does his usual thing, mugging for the camera when not doing death-defying moves and British comedian Steve Coogan is remarkably funny and sweet in the role of the uptight Fogg. (Disney/Buena Vista)