Main cast: Jackie Chan (Passepartout/Lau Xing), Steve Coogan (Phileas Fogg), Robert Fyfe (Jean Michel), Jim Broadbent (Lord Kelvin), Ian McNeice (Colonel Kitchener), Cécile De France (Monique La Roche), Ewen Bremner (Inspector Fix), and Karen Joy Morris (General Fang)
Director: Frank Coraci
How wonderful, an “adaptation” where the French sidekick is turned into a Chinese martial artist who looks as if his face has just came off from kissing the front of a speeding truck. I don’t remember the original story even going to China where “Passepartout” is allowed to show his geriatric, aging attempts at kung-fu that nowadays come off like the dying flails of a man whose career has long outlasted its expiry date.
In this version of Around the World in 80 Days, Lau Xing is a thief who tries to steal some relic called the Jade Buddha only to get into trouble and has to pose as a French assistant to our sidekick Phileas Fogg. Phileas has just accepted a bet that he will travel around the world in 80 days – not easy as this story is set in the 1800s – and if he loses, he will never invent again, gasp. So Passepartout and Phineas embark on a journey where they meet people ugly (cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rob Schneider), not as funny as they think they are (cameos by Luke and Owen Wilson as well as John Cleese), and Chinese who speak English so much better than Jack Chan (Karen Mok, who calls herself Karen Joy Morris for her Hollywood debut). Seriously, Chan should be embarrassed that he, in the starring role, is reduced to speaking short sentences of not more than ten syllables total while Karen Joy Morris and even Samo Hung speak circles around him.
The action is slapstick, unfunny, and caters to the lowest denominator. It tries to keep kiddies happy so there is no intelligent discourses and the potentially offensive – snort – romance between Phileas Fogg and an Indian woman in the original is rendered vanilla here, where Phineas romances a French woman. This movie is devoid of fun, Jackie Chan is obviously not capable of doing his kung-fu thing anymore to make up for his lack of everything else where his acting is concerned. I’ll just stand back and let this movie be enjoyed by Americans who still think that Jackie Chan is something when most people in Asia can’t be bothered anymore.