Around the World in 80 DaysThursday 08 Jul 2004
Directed by Frank Coraci, starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Robert Fyfe, Jim Broadbent, Ian McNeice, David Ryall, Roger Hammond and Cécile De France.
Whatever you do, don't let fond childhood memories of Jules Verne's classic novel lull you into going to this film. If you are a fan of Steve Coogan don't let that cloud your judgement either. The only reason you should go to 'Around the World in 80 Days' is if you are an admirer of Jackie Chan and have no place in your heart for previous big screen efforts or the original novel. This version of the classic tale of Phileas Fogg's audacious attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days is ruined by the presence of Chan, coupled with some appalling cameo casting.
The liberties taken with the original story can be just about forgiven, but the decision to base the movie on the martial arts prowess of the Hong Kong actor was utterly ridiculous. It's as if they'd signed him up for the flick before they decided what they were going to do, then just opted to cut and paste him into a tried and trusted formula.
Coogan has made a commendable career of playing hapless and quintessentially English characters, and as such was the ideal man to play the intrepid inventor. Unfortunately the script focuses on the martial arts expertise of his valet Passepartout (Chan). Chan is fantastic at what he does, but his action scenes hijack this film completely.
There are a couple of notable cameos from Richard Branson and John Cleese. Sadly, they are undermined by the appearance of the nauseating Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Turkish Prince. Honestly, you'd think having to manage the fifth largest economy in the world would keep him out of our faces. Whoever came up with that bright idea should be terminated.
The script puts Chan centre-stage leaving Coogan, who should be the star, in his shadow. It smacks of a wasted opportunity to bring this fabulous story to a new generation. If you're thinking of bringing a child to see 'Around the World in 80 Days', please don't - spend your time scouring through the children's channels for the animated version instead.