'The Medallion' offers kicks for kids

PEGGY J. ROGERS

Jackie Chan mixes martial arts with slapstick for rollicking fun

silliness in "The Medallion." Chan also has his first semi-serious

on-screen kiss with the beautiful Claire Foriani ("Meet Joe Black").

In his efforts to stop a thief from kidnapping a child and

stealing his sacred medallion, Eddie Yang, a Hong Kong cop, saves a

boy's life, but loses his own life in the process. Grateful for the

rescue, the boy gives Eddie his life back through the sacred powers

of a medallion.

Checking to make sure he is alive, Eddie realizes his

death-to-life transformation comes with the added bonus of acute

super-human powers. Eddie now leaps over high walls he once had to

climb, and runs faster than the speed of sound.

A second attempt is made to steal the boy and medallion. The evil

Snakehead plans on ruling the world using the medallion to give him

the same super human powers Eddie and the boy have. It's up to Eddie

Yang to face off against and triumph over Snakehead.

Fans of Chan will be delighted, teens new to Jackie's movies will

be entertained, and adults might find some amusement in "The

Medallion."

* PEGGY J. ROGERS, 40, produces commercial videos and

documentaries.

'Thirteen' explores the battlefield of adolescence

"Thirteen" is first-time filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke's grim

portrait of a teenage girl's rite of passage in Los Angeles. Tracy

(Evan Rachel Wood), a shy girl and good student, approaches Evie

(Nikki Reed), the school's ultra-popular bad influence early in the

film. After sizing up each other's clothing, jewelry, hair, shoes and

socks they decide to go shopping on Melrose. Tracy, however, doesn't

prove herself worthy of Evie's company until after she has lifted

money from the purse of an unsuspecting woman. Entering the world of

peer pressure, Tracy spirals downward, copying Evie's every move in

an aggressive game of daring each other to take increasingly

dangerous risks: Stealing, getting piercings, experimenting with sex,

drinking, huffing and more.

Tracy's mom (Holly Hunter) is a laid-back recovering alcoholic

trying to be open-minded and supportive about her daughter's

rebellion, but dealing with her own co-dependent relationship with a

boyfriend, and the continual absenteeism of Tracy's father in Tracy's

life. As she slowly loses her authority and her ability to cope with

these hormone and drug-crazed teens, the film begins to crackle.

Skillful and creative use of digital photography from

cinematographer Elliot Davis accentuates the raw feeling of the

story. The screenplay by Hardwicke and actress, Nikki Reed, is sharp

and captures the nuances of today's youth with dialogue that is raw,

uncensored and true. This film never apologizes for it's rudeness but

is not entirely bleak. Hunter, Reed and Wood turn in breakthrough

performances.

"Seventeen" will make every parent wince while placing a knot in

their stomach. Kids who attend this rated R picture, will be moved to

tears because they either identify with elements of the film or know

someone who does. I'd recommend every parent see this film with their

teen, but give them the space to experience the film, perhaps from

two rows behind you.

Unlike the issue-based ABC after-school specials, I grew up

watching, this film will speak to parents and teens alike, without

preaching, but through shock. Perhaps more films like this, which

offer shock value, are needed to relay messages in a world in which

many of us have been desensitized to bland and censored TV fare.

* RAY BUFFER, 34, is a professional singer, actor and voice-over

artist.

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