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Philadelphia Daily News:
Unlikely duo clicks out West in 'Shanghai'

by Nolan Reese
For the Daily News

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.

Toronto Sun:

Friday, May 26, 2000 

Blazing saddles
Wild west meets chop-socky in Shanghai Noon
Toronto Sun

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 better-than-average Chan.

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' pictures.

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 his bemusing.

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 pleasing.

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 Shanghai Noon.

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

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 funny, entertainment.

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 wage slaves.

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 excuse.

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 beachcombers.

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 of anachronism.

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 foolish.

But there's an absence of nastiness and a presence of camaraderie that makes momentary humiliation endurable.

Suitable, in other words, for a sunny summer day.

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