The Myth
(SAN WA) 2005

Director: Stanley Tong

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Myth Princess Ok Soo (Hee-seon Kim) becomes the object of division between two nations in Jackie Chan's The Myth (San wa, 2005). After heroic conflicts come to a pique of duelling bloodshed & literal cliff-hanging, during which the defended Ok Soo falls in love with her imperial bodyguard General Meng-yi (Jackie Chan), suddenly an archeologist, name of Jack, awakens from this recurring dream.

Jack's friend William is doing research on antigravity. He is intrigued by Jack's research into a 2,000 year old legend of a floating tomb. The tomb still exists in India & Jack sets out with his buddy for further investigation.

Checking out the tomb that's been floating above an anti-magenetic stone for two thousand years, our scientific investigators promptly destroy it during another action scene, & cause a floating Moslem mystic to fall to his death when William palms the anti-gravity rock.

The tomb also sparks further remembrances of Jack's past life as General Men-yi in the heartbreaking romance with Princess Ok Soo.

After destroying the Moslem shrine for the amusement of exploitation film goers, Jack escapes to the protection of a Guru (Ram Gopal Bajaj) who spews laughable philosophy to explain Jack's past-memory dreamings, & decides to "test" him with a martial arts sequence because Gurus are pretty much interchangeable with kung fu Sifus in this mishmash.

Jack also has adventures with the beautiful Indian Princess (Bollywood's Mallika Sherawat) who helps him in his Keystone Cops Kung Fu Escape from the authorities still ticked off that he destroyed a national treasure & murdered a mula, which I guess we're supposed to blame entirely on his amoral scientific buddy William but seems to me Jack is pretty culpable in his inevitable capacity to lay waste to ancient archeological treasures.

The MythSo here we have Jackie Chan in a double-role. As the modern archeologist, his fight choreography is his familiar comedy schtick amidst battles, improvising weapons from the environment, punching his way to whatever success the moment requires. But in the flashbacks with splendid costuming, the choreography attempts to be genuinely heroic without the familiar schtick.

The seriousness of the past-life action doesn't entirely succeed because Jackie has spent decades expressing the humor of physical action, & when he attempts something with nobility & beauty without comedy, it's harder for him.

But even under a critical eye, it's cool to see Jackie in a role that permits him to work through choreography with traditional weaponry instead of with the ad hoc weapons of his basic comedy kung fu.

Turns out Jack's friend is secretly funded by a villain who knows an entirely different aspect of the Myth, vis, the discovery of an immortality herb, the last immortality pill hidden in a secret tomb which only a brilliant archeologist like Jack can ever find.

The modern story of the kung fu tomb raiders stealing & destroying national treasures, with Jack unwittingly serving the desires of a villain who wants to be immortal, is beyond the pale of ridiculous. But the "previous life" story has a few inspired moments.

Alas, where the story is headed is moronic, as the plot is barely sufficient to justify a video game let alone a work of cinematic fiction.

The Myth It turns out the princess took one of the immortality pills & has been alive in a gigantic underground anti-gravity vault with only one immortal guard for company. She's been waiting two millenia for the promised return of Meng-yi.

The story begs us to believe Ok Soo could be sitting around in a giant tomb for millenia with nothing to do & not only retain her sanity, but even her airy-fairy clothing doesn't get dirty or worn out.

How happy she is to see Jack who she recognizes as Meng-yi. Alas, the villain is in hot pursuit, so there's a big CGI action climax with everyone flying around in the tomb.

The ending seems to be borrowed from the Michelle Yeoh vehicle The Touch (Tian mai chuan qi, 2002) which likewise climaxes with the main cast flying around inside a subterranean tomb filled with CGI hokum, & likewise fails miserably to hold any sense of plausibility even within its fantasy context.

The Myth is a better film than the modern comedies Jackie had been making in North America. But that's not saying a great deal. Although The Myth generated some really stunning still photographs, turns out the photos are way better than the film itself.

Now that Jackie has reached an age where he wants FX to perform the stunts he used to perform on his own, stories are going to have to get a lot better written than this. For if neither his stunts nor his stories are particularly believable, what's the point?

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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