Thursday, July 19, 2007

Around the World in 80 Days DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Jackie Chan Stars in Rancid Remake

England was at the height of its glory back in 1873 when Jules Verne wrote Around the World in 80 Days. At the time, this peripatetic adventure probably appealed to the wanderlust of Brits who saw the world as an oyster awaiting their arrival. So, when this Victorian novel was first adapted to the screen in 1956, it reflected these imperial inclinations. And it also swept the Oscar's, including Best Picture.
The late David Niven headed the star-studded original cast as Phileas Fogg, a proper Brit gent who, on a dare, decides to try to circumnavigate the globe in less than 80 days. Accompanied by his Mexican manservant, Passepartout, he ends up encountering everything from savage Sioux Indians in America to other presumably primitive peoples in Bombay, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Since that politically-incorrect storyline would no longer fly, the plot has been revised considerably, here, to revolve around Passepartout, who is now played by stunt actor Jackie Chan. Besides suddenly being Asian, the character has been transformed from a loyal butler into an untrustworthy, inscrutable jewel thief.
Steve Coogan appears in a support role as Fogg, while eye candy has been inexplicably added in Monique (Cecile de France), Phileas' frisky, French love interest. The film also features colorful cameos by Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Turkish Prince, Sammo Hung as a Ninja, Owen and Luke Wilson as the Wright Brothers, singer Macy Gray as a sleeping beauty, John Cleese as a British bobby, and Kathy Bates impersonating Queen Victoria.
But despite the politically-correct overhaul, the production still seems dated, and is only briefly entertaining during the fight sequences when Mr. Chan's fists and feet and props starts flying. A family-oriented flick which only kids under the age of 8 will have the patience to sit through.

Fair (1 star)
Rated PG for action violence, crude humor and crude language.DVD extras include deleted scenes, a music video by Dave Stewart accompanied by a children's choir, commentaries by co-star Coogan and the director, and a couple of "Around the World" featurettes

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