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Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

June. 16,2004
| Adventure Action Comedy

A bet pits a British inventor, a Chinese thief and a French artist on a worldwide adventure that they can circle the globe in 80 days.


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A comedy. and interesting hommage to the novel by Jules Verne. this is its meaning. and source of charme. good cast, nice performances, a lot of delightfull surprises. and Jules Verne for a new generation. surprising for the perfect balance between martial arts and original story and for the great fun. and, sure, not the last, for inspired courage to propose something a bit extravagant and...expected. because it is more than an adaptation in ordinary sense. it is a splendid show. so, the new "Around the World in 80 Days" !


Perhaps, I was too snooty when I saw this the first time. I was in that era when I was starting to take film study seriously. On first viewing, I was turned off by all the low-brow jokes and felt the oncoming creep of a movie calendar built around blockbusters at the expense of story. I similarly felt angry that another film that year, Troy, watered down the mythology so that we wouldn't be distracted from the main draw of watching Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, and Brad Pitt while shirtless. Similarly, I originally thought "How Dare They Shortchange Jules Vernes' story! This is a blatant attempt to showcase this B-level actor's martial arts." How silly I was to think of Jackie Chan's martial arts as something of a sideshow. I still feel like Jackie Chan could up his game as an actor during the scenes where he's not fighting, but the elaborate staging and acrobatics is fully realized art.The film is kid-friendly and an adult will need to see it on those terms to fully enjoy the film. If you can do that, you'll find the film to be a little exaggerated in its acting, but ultimately sweet, adventurous and a decent homage to the original (with the addition of more karate kicks).


Continuing my plan to watch every Arnie movie in order, I come to his cameo in Around The World In 80 Days.Plot In A Paragraph: A bet pits a British inventor (Steve Coogan) a Chinese thief (Jackie Chan), and a French artist (Cecile De France) on a worldwide adventure that they can circle the globe in 80 days.A lot of your enjoyment of this movie will depend on how funny you find Jackie Chan's slapstick routine and Steve Coogan. I love Coogan as Alan Partridge, but most of his other stuff is hit and miss at best. As for Chan, I have not enjoyed anything he has done in a long time.Arnie turns up about 40 mins in, as Prince Hapi, the man with 6 wives and whose favourite thing in the world, is a giant statue of himself. Hamming it up more than he ever has, Arnold is clearly enjoying himself and is a lot of fun. He is the only bright spot in an otherwise dull affair.Around The World In 80 Days is strictly for people who don't go to the cinema, and stay at home watching movies on DVD and TV. Around The World In 80 Days grossed $24 million at the domestic Box Office and ended the year the 97th highest gross in movie of the year.


In contrast to the '56 version, this is a very cartoonish 90% Jackie Chan vehicle, obviously aimed mainly at children., whereas the '56 version was aimed at all ages, with minimal slapstick, and a majority of faithfulness in portraying the details of the original Jules Verne story. In contrast, this film departs wildly from the book in many details, emphasizing physical confrontations with agents of the introduced female Chinese warlord Fang, who seem to pop up about everywhere they travel, trying to retrieve the small jade Buddha that Chan stole from the Bank of London(why was it kept there?), that has implausibly great value within the context of this yarn. Whereas the actual journeys between landing points constituted a significant fraction of the total '56 film, they are mostly glossed over in this film, as presumably uninteresting details. For example , the animation after the India portion, suggests they somehow went over the Himalayas, to interior China, instead of going to Calcutta, then Singapore and Hong Kong! In fact, Hong Kong, Japan and the journey across the Pacific are totally skipped, as is the journey across the US, save for the bizarre meeting with the Wright brothers incident.Whereas Niven's Fogg was not an especially imaginative inventor of devices, Coogan's Fogg is an eccentric inventor of 'contraptions', whose inventions have thus far not proved practical. Niven's Fogg excelled in thinking of alternative ways of getting along when the expected means of transport available in 1872 failed, and in mapping out a workable schedule of commercial transport. His most imaginative on-the-spot invention was rigging a square of cloth material he spied to a railroad utility car, to achieve sail power in place of the usual hand pumping propulsion. Supposedly, this achievement is far exceeded in the present film by the construction, within a few hours, of a workable airplane, plus very strong catapult, plus long very high ramp, while aboard a ship, using whatever could be found. It was powered by superman Chan, using bicycle petals, chains and gears(found on a small commercial ship?). Although the resulting plane looks nothing remotely like the Wright Brother's later biplane, supposedly it benefited from the drawings the Wrights bizarrely gave to Fogg, as casual acquaintances! Thus, presumably, the present yarn takes place around 1900, rather than the expected 1872!(except for the Edison light bulb scene!). Incidentally, the first human-powered heavier than air aircraft(without passengers) that flew more than half a mile, and with a mean speed of only 7mph, wasn't proved until 1979! This aircraft weighed only 72 lbs. and had a much larger wing surface area than the one shown in this film, impressively enabling it to cross the English channel.In contrast to the '56 version, there is no highly memorable inspirational waltz, as the theme song. On the other hand, the female(Cecile de France, as Monique), picked up in Paris as part of the expedition, is light years more interesting than Shirley McLain's version in the '56 film, who was characterized as an Indian widow, as in the book. Monique also appears much earlier in the film. Also, there is the introduced Chinese woman(Fang) to add further interest, although I didn't find her very interesting. Lord Kelvin((not present in the '56 film) and his agent Mr. Fix are characterized as much more adversarial to Fogg and his valet than their counterparts in the '56 version, Mr. Fix suffering many injuries and other indignities in his role, which ends prematurely when he is battered in India by Fang's warriors, while handcuffed to Chan. Lord Kelvin, of course, was a famous scientist and inventor around this time. Here, he(as well as most of the other members of the Royal Academy of Science)are characterized as a brotherhood of old fuddy duds, who think everything worth discovering or invented as been discovered or invented. Historically, Kelvin did state that he didn't believe a workable heavier-than-air airplane was possible. However, his characterization in this film would have him rolling over in his grave faster than a spun-up neutron star! After all, steam-powered flying machines had proved impractical. The world awaited a power source that was more powerful, yet lighter(Fogg's bunch didn't provide that.) The overall message of the film, much more so that the '56 film, is that old scientists(and by extension, most old people, except Queen Victoria) are set in their prejudices about what is true and what is possible to invent. Thus, they should be kicked out of important positions of authority, replaced by young people, with fresh ideas and experiences, who are not hampered by the currently accepted laws of physics, be they valid or limited in their applicability.Oh, by the way, how did Fogg and friends continue their journey after all his money was stolen in San Francisco?? soon forgotten!