Archaeologist Jack Lee (Chan) keeps having reoccurring dreams of a past life, where he is the great General Meng whom is sworn to protect a Korean Princess named OK-soo (Kim). When his old friend William(Leung) returns to his life telling scientific tales of a levitating Holy man in India. They decide to go investigating Indiana Jones style. However, when Lee stumbles on (more like almost gets crusted by) a tomb revealing a painting of the Princess from his dream, he begins unravelling the true connection between his past life and his current.
Stanley Tongs The Myth is two different stories intertwined together into one. One plays very much like a Jackie Chan film, filled with a healthy dose of Chan approved action and humour. The other is something that we have never seen from Jackie, a sweeping epic filled with horses and swords, princess’ and soldiers, and even some decapitation! Basically it’s like putting Armour of God and Musa the Warrior on two separate pieces of bread, and making a sandwich! But does the sandwich taste good? as a matter of fact, it kind of does.
The Myth does come with its flaws however, and not in small doses either. Perhaps the film’s most common is the often horrible CGI! (And to think, it was nominated for best Visual Effects at the HKFA) Its not always bad, but when it sticks, it reeks! Luckily the film is not too depended on the CGI so it is not to completely put one off the film. Another disappointment is the wasted use of Mallika Sherawat. If you love Bollywood, and were excited to see her in this film, don’t get too excited. Billing her as a lead is almost as bad as calling Steven Segal the star of Executive Decision (if you have seen that film you are probably nodding in agreement). Her purpose in the film is basically to walk around with Jack while he is in India. That’s it. . . Oh and to dance, and get 90% naked (out of frame, sorry!).
The rest of the leading cast however were used quite well. Tony Leung Ka Fai may not have had an overly demanding role, but he pulled it off. Kim Hee-seon is wonderful and quite believable in her role. Its Jackie Chan however, who definitely earns his star status in this film. Chan is such an underrated actor. This is indeed quite unfortunate, because the man can act! His performance as the honourable General Meng is wonderful, and may be one of his best acting performance to date. The only problem with it is that if you have not seen such films as Crime Story, New Police Story, or Heart of Dragon, and are used to his mainstream films like First Strike, Rush Hour, Tuxedo, or Rumble in the Bronx. You may not be able to take him as a serious actor, especially in this role.
What is also great about The Myth is the visuals. It’s a very pretty film, mostly filmed in India, but even the shots of Hong Kong from atop Jacks home is beautiful! As pretty as the film is, what really stands out (to me anyway) is the wonderful music. The theme titled “Endless Love” is played in various arrangements throughout the majority of the flash backs with General Meng and Oh-soo.(it is also performed by Jackie Chan and Kim Hee-seon) The song was nominated at the 2006 Hong Kong Film Awards for best Original Song. It’s a great song that fits the tone of the film so well.
If you like action in your Chan films, The Myth has some of that too. As stated above the scenes in modern day have the comedic, and crafty Jackie Chan fights you know and love, one in particular happens to be one of his best in recent films, which is in a glue factory. The period sequences play more like your typical epic film ala’ Musa, Hero, The Promise. Mostly swordplay, horses etc. Not as fun to watch, but still pretty damn good
If you like period epics, or modern action films, or if you like both! Then you will enjoy The Myth to some degree, because it’s basically both of those! It’s also a pretty daring film for Jackie Chan. It is not often you see him on a horse during the Qin Dynasty leading and army of soldiers to protect a princess, in fact you haven’t. Until now! Some may not accept that. But I respect him for trying something different. For those who will not be able to handle that kind of Jackie, the other half of the film will probably save it. Will we ever see him in another Period epic, this time entirely a period film? Who knows, but one thing is for sure. He could easily pull it off.
A Film by Stanley Tong