Set in 1872, the story focuses on Passepartout, a Chinese thief who steals a valuable jade Buddha and then seeks refuge in the traveling companionship of an eccentric London inventor and adventurer, Phileas Fogg, who has taken on a bet with members of his gentlemen's club that he can make it around the world in a mere 80 days, using a variety of means of transportation, like boats, trains, balloons, elephants, etc. Along the way, Passepartout uses his amazing martial arts abilities to defend Fogg from the many dangers they face.. One major threat to their adventure is a detective that's following them. Why? Just as Fogg and Passeportout left London, a major bank was robbed, with Fogg suspected of using the "around the world" trip as an excuse to escape.. Their path from London and back includes stops in Paris, Turkey, India, China and USA... Written by
Jackie Chan has had a mixed time of late in Hollywood. There was the good fun of Shanghai Knights and around that was the poor duo of Tuxedo and The Medallion. This falls somewhere in the middle. Around The World is good fun. It's not great but it has charm and energy and is the sort of mindless, competent movie making that is hard not to enjoy watching. It's forgettable, could have been much better, but all in all not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The look of the film feels very Disney. It is all very much orientated towards satisfying children. It's almost a cartoonish realism with the set design and costumes, clearly evident with Philleas Fogs gadget laden home. The action in the film and the looks could probably have been more gritty but in any case it looks very colourful and the various settings all catch the eye. It is clearly evident that the film had a lot spent on it, although some of the CGI effects are not of the standard expected from a $110 million film.
Cast-wise, Jackie Chan as ever is good. He's a comical genius and as usual performs his own stunts. The fight scenes are good. Nothing compared to Chan's Hong Kong stuff but far superior to much of his Hollywood action. Steve Coogan is someone I am a big fan of. He is the dog's hairy things as Alan Partridge. He is a comical genius. He doesn't seem as entirely natural here though and the character he creates doesn't always work. It seems too cartoony at times especially the accent. Cecile De France is very good as Coogan's love interest. She is attractive, in a cutesy sort of way but she has a charm and a likeability that works very well and the three leads seem to have a good chemistry. The rest of the cast are all excellent with a huge list of supporting parts and cameo's including an excellent Jim Broadbent, a great part for Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger, and it was great to see him on screen with Chan, also Rob Schneider, Luke and Owen Wilson, John Cleese, Kathy Bates, and particularly exciting to me as a Hong Kong action fan, Sammo Hung. The best supporting part for me was Ewan Bremner as the accident prone police sergeant.
Overall it's worth watching and is entertaining enough but don't expect it to blow your socks off. ***
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