Around the World in 80 Days (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
Let me start by saying, it was kind of hard deciding which category to place this in. "Martial arts" would be somewhat appropriate, because there's a fair bit of that in the movie, though the movie generally seems more western in nature (by which I mean European or American), so perhaps "action/adventure" would be more apt. On the other hand, it seems more about comedy than adventure (though I might almost call it a dramedy.) I could have also called it "period," since it's set "before the turn of the century" (no actual year is given, though it's clearly the late 1800s). But somehow, it seems a bit too silly for that category. I could sort of call it fantasy, partly because of historical inaccuracies, but largely because... well, after all, it's based on a Jules Verne novel (though that sort of begs the question of whether his stories belong in the "fantasy" or "science fiction" genre). The point is, it's about an inventor who is ahead of his time. Still, it wasn't that fantastical. (And while I'm on the subject, I should mention I've never actually read the book, so I've no idea how far the movie strays from the source material, but I daresay it is almost entirely divergent. Anyway, there have been other movies based on the book, and I may have seen one when I was quite young, I don't really remember.) Ultimately, I think it might be best to call it a family film, even if a bit of what goes on might be... well, you know, it's PG, not G. Still, I suppose it's not very... adult, or anything. Yes, as I said, it's rather silly, so it's probably targeted to a fair extent at kids, though I think it should also appeal to adults. Anyway, Walden Media had a hand in the making of it, and most of their films I end up putting in the "family" section. So that's what I'll go with, I guess.
Um. So, the Bank of England is robbed. The thief is a man who we later learn is named Lau Xing (Jackie Chan). But in the course of evading police, he ends up meeting an inventor named Phileas Fogg. He becomes Fogg's valet, and takes on the name Passepartout. Soon after that, Fogg goes to the Royal Academy of Science, the head of which is Lord Kelvin. Everyone there has great disdain for Fogg (though they also fear Kelvin). Kelvin believes all that's worth discovering has already been discovered, whereas Fogg is interested in pushing the bounds of human knowledge, bettering mankind. Somehow in the course of conversation, a bet arises, that Fogg can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days, which Kelvin thinks impossible. If he succeeds, Kelvin will relinquish his title as Minister of Science to Fogg. If he fails, Fogg will have to tear down his lab and never invent anything again.
So, anyway, Fogg and "Passepartout" set off together, and the first stop we see on their journey is Paris, where they meet an aspiring impressionist painter named Monique Laroche. She wants to see the world, so she ends up travelling with them, though at first Fogg is displeased by this (of course, it's entirely predictable that his feelings will eventually change). Meanwhile, the group is followed by Inspector Fix, a rather bumbling police officer who had been sent by the Academy to prevent them from winning the bet. But the real threat comes from the many henchmen of a woman named General Fang, a Chinese warlord who had stolen a Jade Buddha from Lau Xing's home village. She'd given it to Kelvin to secure military assistance from him to conquer Lau Xing's village (which was apparently defended by the legendary "Ten Tigers of Canton," a group of expert martial artists). Lau Xing had come to England to retrieve the Buddha, which is what he stole from the Bank of England. So, under the guise of Passepartout, he had joined Fogg, who was unwittingly providing him with the fastest means to return to China.
So, Fogg, Lau Xing, and Monique have a series of adventures as they travel the world, though it isn't until they've been in Lau Xing's village in China for some time, before Fogg finally learns the truth about "Passepartout." Lau Xing regrets having lied to him, and having put them all in danger. (Of course, General Fang had more reason to try to stop them than just retrieving the Jade Buddha from Lau Xing; she also needed to prevent Fogg from winning his bet with Kelvin, which would have stripped Kelvin of his ability to help her in her own ambitions of conquest.) Well, I don't really want to go into specifics about any of the events along the journey, but it was all reasonably entertaining. The movie has decent fights, and a lot of humor (some of it pretty funny, some of it not so much), lots of cameos of various actors, some of whom were playing significant historical figures. And, naturally, it has a happy ending. And I guess that's about all I can say....