This may be a Jackie Chan flick, but don’t expect the same buddy cops-versus-bad guys shtick he’s honed to perfection in ”Rush Hour” and ”Shanghai Noon.” ”In the past, I’ve played a policeman or an undercover CIA agent,” says Chan. ”This part is a bit closer to who I am in real life — I’m playing a Chinese man coming to England.” The man is Passepartout, who latches on to English inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) in order to save his home in China. Driving Fogg is a wager he makes with Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent) that he and Passepartout can circumnavigate the globe in, well, you know.
The production, based on the Jules Verne classic, was shot primarily in Thailand and Germany and is one of the most expensive independent films (upward of $100 million) ever made — director Frank Coraci (”The Waterboy”) didn’t even secure a distributor (Disney) until after shopping the first cut around. ”You think, Oh, God, I don’t have enough money to do this,” he says. But he peppered the film with expanded cameos — Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Turkish prince, for example — to help sell the European tale in the States.
THE GOOD NEWS It boasts drop-ins by everyone from Owen and Luke Wilson (as the Wright brothers) to Kathy Bates (as Queen Victoria).
THE BAD NEWS It’s the umpteenth version of the classic tale.