|You've seen every
element of "Shanghai Noon"
before - from the classics of John Wayne,
Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood, to the
not-so-classic efforts of Will Smith and
Woody Harrelson. For most movie fans,
there are few settings as familiar as the
Wild West. The gunfights, the bars with
the piano player plinking out "The
Entertainer," the horses, the
Indians that say "How," the
cowboys, the dance-hall girls, the. .
.well, you get the idea.
Then there's the "Buddy
Premise": the pairing of two people
who shouldn't go together, whose friction
is the basis for the story.
"Shanghai Noon" star Jackie
Chan used it in "Rush Hour," in
which he partnered with rapid-fire
comedian Chris Tucker. That huge success
begat this new mismatched buddy movie set
in the old West.
"Shanghai Noon" is a film with
a plot remarkably similar to "Rush
Hour," packed to the brim with
Western references and plays on words.
Owen Wilson is on hand this time as a
wise-cracking train robber, and although
he is given a few awful lines, his
chemistry with Chan works well and
provides more than enough laughs.
Chan's trademark fight scenes are
present, too. There's nothing quite on
par with the ladder scene in "First
Strike" or the giant fan in
"Operation Condor," but Chan
still gets to kick some butt, at least as
much as a PG-13 rating will allow.
The film's major flaws lie in its
editing, as some scenes seem clipped
short while others feel like someone fell
asleep at the console. There's almost a
half-hour before Chan and Wilson finally
team up, and Chan's amusing meeting with
an Indian tribe aside, the film just
lingers at the start.
The other element that's a bit off is the
music. Could you imagine John Wayne
approaching a duel with ZZ Top blaring in
the background? Sure, the hard-rock
standards used to underscore some of the
fights provide energy, but they're out of
place in this new-fashioned horse opera.
But nobody really goes to a film like
"Shanghai Noon" to critique the
editing or the music. While this is a
flawed film, it's also a fun film and the
movie has enough laughs and fights to
sustain interest for its running time.
"Shanghai Noon" does everything
you'd expect a summer
action/comedy/Western to do. It provides
enjoyable mindless fun to justify the
cost of a ticket.
Friday, May 26, 2000
Wild west meets chop-socky in Shanghai
By BOB THOMPSON
Don't be fooled. Shanghai Noon is not a
Madonna re-release trick to hoodwink us
into seeing Shanghai Surprise.
Shanghai Noon is another in a series of
Jackie Chan pictures.
In this one he goes cowboy as the wild
west meets chop-socky. It's like Butch
Chan And The Sundance Twit.
Chan is a 19th century Chinese Imperial
Guard who volunteers to track down a
kidnapped Chinese princess (Lucy Liu) all
the way to Arizona during the olden days
of the wild, wild west according to the
American cinema tradition of saloon
fights, quick draw matches and fierce
native warriors who always get defeated
in the end.
Shanghai Noon, directed by Tom Dey, makes
no apologies for these cliches, but
embraces them in the name of spoofing and
goofing. The cowboy movie references are
many. Count 'em in your spare time.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Chan shows
off his martial arts stunts against
gunslingers, hostile Indians and, in his
great slapstick tradition, himself.
Recall Chan's Rumble In the Bronx, First
Strike, Supercop, even Operation Condor,
and you get the just-for-fun picture.
This isn't quite as eventful as Chan's
modern-day Rush Hour. But it's
So is the Alfred Gough-Miles Millar
script, which seems to delight in puns,
mocking western scenarios and sending up
the buddy genre defined by Crosby and
Hope in their ludicrous 1940s 'Road'
Think of Owen Wilson as Hope. He's
wry-on-ham as a dopey Sundance Twit
outlaw who pretends to be a sidekick so
he can con Chan's Chon Wang -- say that
10 times fast -- out of his gold
designated for the Princess ransom.
Wilson, in his portrayal of the
incompetent Roy O'Bannon, lives somewhere
between glib and gleeful. I was amused by
No wonder his screenplay for Rushmore was
so funny. He is a living droll.
On the quiet beauty front, there is Lucy
Liu as Princess Pei Pei, which is the
perfect name for a Princess Pee Pee joke
used with great purpose in the movie. Liu
will be a Charlie's Angel and has been
the Ally McBeal dragon lady on TV. Here
she's eye-catching and athletic, and
Chan fans will be pleased, too. Lots of
slapshtick in the kick and box tradition.
Lots of opportunities for Chan-o-maniacs
to yell encouragement, yahoo, and whoop
at the screen.
If you have never been to a Chan flick
with Chan-o-maniacs, don't be afraid.
They mean no harm. They get caught up in
the spirit of the event.
In fact, Chan virgins might consider
taking this opportunity to lose it with
You don't have to think while you blink.
There are no complicated metaphors to
sort out. The issue of laughing
uncontrollably at the dumb and the inane
is moot, since that's what you're
supposed to do.
Besides, ya gotta hear Aerosmith do Back
In The Saddle Again the way only
Aerosmith could do it.
All things considered, it makes for a
pretty good Shanghai Noon-er delight.
Orange County Register
How the West was fun
REVIEW: Jackie Chan puts his own amiable
spin on 'Shanghai Noon.'
May 26, 2000
By HENRY SHEEHAN
The Orange County Register
THEY'RE PARTNERS: Outlaw Roy O'Bannon
(Owen Wilson) and imperial guard Chon
Wang (Jackie Chan) team to rescue a
princess in 'Shanghai Noon.'
Jackie Chan lets his goofy, acrobatic
self run free in "Shanghai
Noon," the great comic performer's
best film of the past few years. The
surprise is that Chan has made the movie
on his own terms in Hollywood, which,
based on his appearance in "Rush
Hour," seemed intent on turning the
Hong Kong superstar into another
run-of-the- mill action star.
While not in the class of his best work,
"Shanghai Noon" captures the
how-did-I-get-into-this-mess nature of
Chan's comic essence. Throw in strong
support from a good cast, particularly
Owen Wilson as a surfer-dude-type gunman,
and you have a broad, but genuinely
Chan plays Chon Wang, a ne'er-do-well
member of the Peking Imperial Guard circa
1881. The Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) has
been kidnapped by a former guardsman, Lo
Fong (Roger Yuan), who is keeping her at
his Western U.S. railroad-building
compound, along with thousands of Chinese
Chon is supposed to accompany a trio of
more competent guardsman with the ransom,
but while en route, their train is robbed
by a small gang led by self-styled outlaw
but eternally whining Roy O'Bannon
(Wilson). Chon foils the robbery, and
when Roy's gang finds out that not only
did they not get the Chinese gold, but
that Roy didn't even know about it, they
bury him up to his neck in the desert.
Chon discovers him but leaves him there,
an unpromising beginning for a
partnership that, nevertheless,
flourishes soon enough.
The whole bit with the ransom is just an
excuse of a plot, but it's a wonderful
For one thing, it allows Chan to stage
about half a dozen fights which, as Chan
fans know, aren't really fights at all
but elaborate acrobatic bits based on
Peking Opera tradition. There are a
couple of standouts, my favorite being
one in which Chon/Chan rescues an Indian
boy from a quartet of tomahawk-wielding
enemies on horseback. But that's just
personal preference, and there are plenty
of comic fisticuffs to chose from.
Wilson also turns out to be an inspired
partner for Chan. As was Chris Tucker in
"Rush Hour," Wilson is meant to
carry the verbal load for himself and the
heavily accented Chan. But unlike Tucker,
Wilson doesn't engage in mile-a- minute
patter but in the Southern California,
drawling whine so familiar to
Screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles
Millar give themselves a "Blazing
Saddles"-like exemption from
reality, so occasionally O'Bannon is
heard uttering remarks more suitable to a
sushi bar than a Wild West saloon.
But the opportunity to hear him try to
pick up Chon's Indian bride by telling
her what a "male-dominated
society" China is is worth the price
Finally, there's something refreshing in
watching a comedy so unremittingly
pleasant as "Shanghai Noon."
The gags are largely elaborate and
occasionally leave the heroes looking
But there's an absence of nastiness and a
presence of camaraderie that makes
momentary humiliation endurable.
Suitable, in other words, for a sunny
to Jackie Chan interview part I