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"Around the World in 80 Days"

ENERGETIC AND enormously good-natured, Jackie Chan is the star of the adaptation of the well-known Jules Verne's work, `Around The World In 80 Days.'

It manages to entertain because the tone is set right at the start and stays that way till the end. It is a silly film and the makers know that, and run with it unapologetically, making sure Jackie Chan puts in all his usual stunts.

It is also probably making light of pedantic stuff that came earlier. A rich English inventor, in desperate need of a hug, with his servant, (Passepartout, the valet) might not go down well in today's times. So Jackie Chan (as the valet) is the hero, with an agenda of his own.

As in "Shanghai Knights" and "The Medallion," Chan, who is Lau Xing, must retrieve and return an ancient artefact — in this case a jade Buddha to his village from where it was stolen. He steals the Buddha from the Bank Of England and has the London police hot on his heels.

He lands headlong into Phileas Fogg's (Steve Coogan) yard where Fogg's valet and guinea pig are leaving his services. To escape the police, Chan lets Fogg hire him as his newest valet. It is only when he test-drives one of his inventions does Chan realise the hazardous nature of his job.

Now he must get back to China and to his village to return the Buddha. Which he does by setting Fogg up to enter a bet with the President of The Royal Academy Of Science, Lord Kelvin, a supercilious mediocre scientist played with gusto by Jim Broadbent. And he has some truly unsavoury underlings, who fall in line with his evil schemes and scoff at Fogg and his creations. The bet is that Fogg will circumnavigate the world in 80 days and become the new President of the Academy. But if he fails he will never invent anything in his life again.

The journey begins and naturally it is full of peril. The film is energetic and most Jackie Chan fans wouldn't mind sitting through this journey. There are several cameos meant for laughter, and the best one is Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays Prince Hapi, a lecherous Turkish sultan. Of course some of the humour is very silly and the fights repetitive.

The three lead actors — Chan, Coogan and Cecile De France — work well together and give the movie its heart. Jackie Chan, at 50, moves like Fred Astaire. The animated transitions, which are used to signal change in each place and location, are very Disney in character and lovely to behold.

CHITRA MAHESH

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