The new Around the World in 80 Days does not exactly follow the guidelines of the original 1873 novel by Jules Verne or those of the multi-award-winning 1956 film. In fact, in this version, the principal character focus shifts from the fastidious London gent, Phileas Fogg (here played by Steve Coogan) to his French valet, Passepartout who, as played by Jackie Chan, is neither French nor a valet. His real name is Lau Xing and he is on the run from the law after pinching a jade Buddha from the Bank of England. With London bobbies hot on his tail, Lau Xing quickly invents a story about his ancestry to explain his French name and to score himself a job as manservant to a very gullible Fogg.
Fogg, as well as having a reputation for fussiness, has also been given a new eccentricity; he is an inventor - and a crackpot one as far as the Royal Academy of Science is concerned, especially its bumptious progress-stifling head, Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent). Fogg accepts a bet with Kelvin that he can travel around the world in 80 days. If he wins, he will replace Kelvin as head of the academy. Passepartout sees the trip as his chance to return the Buddha to his village home from where it has been stolen by a band of thugs known as Black Scorpions led by the redoubtable General Fang (Karen Joy Morris). As it turns out, the villainous Kelvin (boo! hiss!) is in cahoots with General Fang and her gang who intend to reclaim the Buddha from Passepartout and slow down Foggs progress. Obviously a man not used to losing, Kelvin has also sent a flat-footed detective, Inspector Fix (Ewen Bremner) after Passepartout.
In Paris, the travellers are joined by would-be artist, Monique La Roche - who wants to go along for the ride. Naturally, its not a smooth one and the group encounters setbacks across the globe as they travel by land, sea - and even air! Jackie gets several opportunities to do what he does best in a series of martial arts confrontations with the Black Scorpions, the biggest of which takes place when they arrive at Xau Lings village. Its here, too, that he has a falling out with Fogg who is disappointed to discover who his valet really is and his true motives for accompanying him. With just days to go to win the bet, Fogg parts company with his two fellow travellers and goes it alone
Familiar faces, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Cleese Luke and Owen Wilson (as the Wright brothers), Kathy Bates (as Queen Victoria) and others pop in briefly during the journey to keep things lively.