Make your own free website on


Just for Kicks, Go West, Young Chan
By Gene Seymour. STAFF WRITER

Jackie Chan goes west in this amiably mindless action spoof in which he plays a bumbling palace guard dispatched to 1880s America to rescue a kidnaped princess (Lucy Liu). Owen Wilson is a hoot as a bush-league outlaw who helps out, sort of. Directed by Tom Dey. 1:40 (some vulgarity, lots of cartoon-like violence). At area theaters.

IF SUMMER movie season is the postmodern equivalent of the traveling circus, then Jackie Chan is a one-man big top, his own ringmaster, acrobat troupe and clown act. He may give tent shows compared with the arena-rock phantasmagoria routinely delivered by James Cameron or Jerry Bruckheimer. But within his self-defined limits, Chan works with both dogged conviction and an unapologetic, ingratiating affection for elaborate silliness.

So what, then, if Chan's latest, "Shanghai Noon," isn't as good a western as "Rio Bravo" or as laugh-out-loud funny a western spoof as "Blazing Saddles"? As filmed circus acts go, it's a lot more fun than the "Cirque du Soleil" show now oozing its way through the IMAX circuit. The jokes are broad and dumb, just as they're supposed to be in a sideshow. Its settings, both in imperial China and the Wild West of the 19th Century, are the exotic stuff of old-fashioned carnival romance. Who needs a plot to connect it all?

Nevertheless, there is one. It is 1881 and Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) decides to bolt China's Forbidden City for the United States, rather than marry a royal-blooded dolt as pre-arranged by her family. It turns out that she's been set up for a kidnaping by a renegade imperial guard (Roger Yuan) now exploiting Chinese immigrants' labor on the American railroads.

Back in China, a far less terrifying palace guard named Chon Wang (Chan) begs to accompany three of his comrades to Carson City, Nev., with the ransom.

The train they're riding is attacked by a gang of outlaws led by genial Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), whose sole reason for becoming a desperado is roughly equivalent to those held by more than a few aspiring rock stars: It impresses the heck out of the womenfolk.

In the ensuing chaos, Chon Wang is separated from his party, battles one tribe of Indians while being embraced by another and ends up in a like-hate alliance with Roy, who's about as adept in the frontier as this greenhorn from the Far East.

This fish-out-of-water scenario served Chan well in 1998's "Rush Hour" and once again, his wide-eyed charm and befuddled stoicism are given plenty of space to operate. The movie also has plenty of space to display the patented Chan panache with inanimate objects in the midst of rapid-fire martial arts sequences. On the shady side of 40, Chan is still in fighting, twirling trim.

These days, the real surprises are found in Chan's non-combative moments, such as the well-timed Keatonesque way he deals with a horse that insists on following him into a saloon.

Wilson may provide a less drastic comic foil for Chan than "Rush Hour's" Chris Tucker. But his off-kilter hayseed persona is given what may be its most attractive setting to date and he makes the most of it with an inspired exhibition of goofball cool.

"Shanghai Noon's" title is only the first of its many gratuitous nods to Hollywood's western heyday. Say "Chon Wang's" name out loud and you'll know why you're supposed to laugh. Wilson's O'Bannon is moved to say, "What kind of name is that for a cowboy?" It's funnier the first time than it is the second. Which proves that western spoof is now as stodgily ritualized as what it used to mock. Still, you have to admire the cheek of any western, funny or otherwise, where Indians are placed in the role of the calvary, that is, "saving the day."

Richmond (Virginia) Times :
Shanghai Noon' offers fewer stunts, but lots of fun and wittiness

Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

Like an aging pitcher who can no longer rely on a blazing fastball and has to use craftiness to get the batters out, Jackie Chan is moving from being a martial artist and stuntman to more of a filmmaker.

Chan's latest picture, "Shanghai Noon," is a comedy rather than a martial arts film. It still has plenty of fights in it and several stunts, though at 46 Chan is no longer attempting the mind-boggling stunts he once performed.

But what comes through most of all is the humor. After a slow start, the laughs keep coming, like Chan's furious fists of old.

CAST: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson

AT: Chester, Chesterfield, Cloverleaf, Genito, Ridge, Southpark, Virginia Center

FYI: 106 minutes. Rated PG-13 (bloodless violence)

The clever script by previously unclever Alfred Gough and Miles Millar deftly combines several comic genres: the buddy film, the fish-out-of-water film and the Western movie parody (think of the title as "[Shang] High Noon"). All are blended into an experience that is surprisingly enjoyable.

Set in 1881, the film stars Chan as Chon Wang, a little-respected imperial guard at the Forbidden City in Beijing. When a princess (Lucy Liu) is ordered to marry the toadlike pre-adolescent emperor, she arranges to escape from the country with her interpreter.

They flee to America, where, not overly surprisingly, she is sold into servitude as a coolie. Chon and a few other imperial guards are dispatched to America to ransom her with a crate of gold.

In the Wild West, Chon meets up with bandit Roy O'Bannon, played adroitly by Owen Wilson. Roy is a bad bandit but a nice guy who has apparently become a train robber in order to impress girls.

In the time-worn tradition of buddy films, the two begin as enemies, become wary partners and eventually wind up as friends.

Though Chon is steeped in tradition, the laconic Roy is a modern take on a cowboy, an anti-hero who can neither shoot nor think straight.

Much of the humor comes from the arranged marriage of these two traditions, when the thoroughly Eastern Chon becomes a cowboy. Only after the two stars begin riding horses together do we realize that the name Chon Wang can sound like John Wayne.

The good-natured script is full of wit, a little-seen commodity in the movies these days. A settler sees the Chinese guards and, realizing they aren't Indian, assumes they are Jewish ("Shalom," he says to them).

Roy is pleased to be on a Wanted poster, but is miffed to learn that the reward for Chon is much higher -- noting that Chon, after all, is just a sidekick.

And whoever thought of putting Jackie Chan in the middle of a barroom brawl in the Wild West, with ZZ Top playing on the soundtrack, deserves to be congratulated.

Though the stunts are fewer, the film still offers some, the best being a fight high atop a bell tower.

What would have been a truly spectacular leap from one train car to another is unconvincingly faked through editing. It is the kind of stunt he would have attempted when he was younger and not being watched over by a nervous studio.

It is sad, but inevitable, to see Chan slow down. But it is gratifying indeed to watch him slip so effortlessly into something he does as well, comedy.

USA Today:

Wilson may feel 'Chan effect'

By Stephen Schaefer, USA TODAY

Chan's 'Shaghai' is a kick

Owen Wilson may wear a black hat opposite Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon, but he's no bad guy.

In fact Wilson is teamed with the Hong Kong-based superstar in Noon, opening today.

The last time Chan hooked up with an off-the-wall pal, it was Chris Tucker in the 1998 box office behemoth Rush Hour, and Tucker's price immediately jumped to $17 million.

Wilson, whose brothers Luke and Andrew also act, knew going in to Shanghai Noon that there would be pressure to match that kind of teaming. "But this being a period piece and my playing a cowboy, it's different," Wilson says.

Shanghai Noon has the acrobatically airborne Chan as an imperial guard in 1880s Peking who is sent to America's Wild West to rescue a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu). Almost as soon as he arrives, Chan's Chon Wang meets Wilson's Roy O'Bannon. Wilson sees O'Bannon as kind of a time-traveling California surfer cowboy. "Originally, he was much more traditional. The way I saw him was the way kids do air guitar and think of how much fun it would be to be in Led Zeppelin. The equivalent back then was to be an outlaw."

Playing O'Bannon actually wasn't a stretch. Though Wilson, a Texan, took horseback riding and fast-draw lessons before filming, he confided, "I wasn't that crazy about horses. My mother's a good horseback rider, but I've never hit it off that well with horses."

He did hit it off with Chan, naturally. "I'd seen Jackie Chan as a kid in something like Cannonball Run but was not even aware it was Jackie Chan then. I remember Quentin Tarantino said if he could come back as anyone, he'd come back as Jackie," says Wilson. "Jackie really is like Fred Astaire, the way he is with the action stuff. There's not real violence there."

But Wilson never envied him.

"Not only did I not take the challenge, I decided if Jackie was doing all his own stunts, I wanted to be known as the actor who never did any."

After positive test screenings Shanghai Noon was repositioned to this Memorial Day weekend, even though that slots it against Mission: Impossible 2.   "There is a kind of excitement having it moved up because it shows they believe in the movie," he says, "but it's nerve-racking to open against M:I-2."

South China Morning Post!

Chan tames Wild West

East meets Western: Owen Wilson, left, as a bumbling bandit and Jackie Chan are men with a mission in Shanghai Noon.


There were plenty of heroes in America's Wild West and plenty of villains, too. But there was nothing quite like Jackie Chan.
In his latest vehicle, Shanghai Noon, Chan takes on the Western genre and does what he does best; he turns it on its ear.

As Chon Wang - a proud but put-upon Imperial Guard searching for a kidnapped princess - Chan fights his way past all the cliched characters audiences have come to expect. Cowboys, Indians and guns for hire are all left in his wake.

No, there's nothing really new to be found in Chan's role as a man out of his depth, but there is a freshness and zeal to the story that keep it all rolling along nicely.

It's more Blazing Saddles than High Noon, and that's meant as a compliment.

We first encounter Wang inside the Forbidden City. He watches as the princess (Ally McBeal's Lucy Lui) is led away thinking she is escaping an arranged marriage. We soon discover she has been kidnapped and Wang, feeling somehow responsible, pleads his way on to the rescue team. Exit Exotic East; enter Wild West.

While travelling to pay the ransom, Wang and his crew run into a bunch of bandits, led by Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) and from there the laughs, and the tumbles, come thick and fast.

As the small-time criminal with big-time ideas, Wilson is at his bumbling best, recalling his wonderful performance as the inept crook Dignan in Bottle Rocket (1996). His chemistry with Chan brings provides the film's highlights as they combine in friendship to rescue the princess. And what more needs to be said about that man Chan. How he continually comes up with fresh ideas for fight scenes - using a horse shoe to fend off attackers in one, moose antlers in another - is anyone's guess.

As Princess Pei Pei, Lui doesn't really have much to do except pout but, it must be said, she does that very well.

There are countless nods to the Westerns of old - Chon Wang translates to John Wayne and one of the villains of the piece is called Van Cleef (as in Lee) - and that's all part of Shanghai Noon's undoubted charm. The body count may be high but the actual violence is, as is Chan's trademark, always kept more slapstick than Scorsese. And, these days, that makes for a welcome change.

It must be said, too, that Shanghai Noon will perhaps be the only time a cowboy steals a line from a James Brown song ("I don't know karate, but I know crazy") and first-time director Tom Dey produces a finale that would do action king John Woo proud - church shootout and all.

But Chan's fans will not have to be convinced. After all, if he shoots it, they will come. And rightly so.

Back Home
Go to Jackie Chan interview part I

Shanghai Noon OfficialShanghai Noon Austra
Shanghai Noon VideoJackie news headlinesAccidental Spy HK
Accidental Spy Kr
J Chan Adventures
J Chan Downloads
New Jackie Forum
Jackie in Altavista
Shanghai Noon Reviews

New York Daily News Boston Globe article
Washington Post
Los Angeles Times
SJ State University
Philadelphia Daily
Toronto Sun
Orange County
Seattle Times
New York Post
Calgary Sun
Richmond Times
USA Today
South China Post
Las Vegas Weekly
Edmonton Sun
LA Times

JC- Why are you a fan?

Share your oppinions

JC- Fan Poetry

Poems from Fans

JackieC -

Jackie Books
JC Poster
JC in DVD & Video
JC Auctions
JC ZShops
JC Games
JC in CD World
JC in Express
JC Related products

Search JC in CD World

Jackie Movies

All Jackie Movies

Movies Websites

Who Am I?C / EnglishVRush Hour
First Strike
King of Comedy
Mr.Nice Guy / German

JChan's Top Ten

Fights & Stunts

Jackie CD's

All Jackie Collections

Jackie`s BIO

Mr.Showbiz: JChan

Jackie on TV this week

See Jackie on TV

JC Interviews/Articles

Interview in Muzi NewJC in Straits Times
Jackie on Shanghai N.Jackie in E!ONLINE
Jackie-Time MagazineJackie in Hotwired
Entertainment WeeklyJackie- PEOPLE magSearch NY Times
Jackie in Boxoff
Interview in Cinopsis USA - Today
JC about Gorgeous
JC in Asia E!Online
Jackie with Mike LeederJackie and Gen-X Cops
Jackie in Film. Com

Jackie Chan Movies Info

Jackie in Fansites
Jackie Movies bigstarJackie Chan WebzoneJC in Coolamall movie
Hong Kong Movies
JC in Starsline
JC in Chinastar

Jackie Items

Jackie on Ebay

Márcia Pontes
The Author

Jackie Chan Research Project
Copyright 2000 ©
Márcia Pontes