Shanghai Noon (2000) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, some drug humor, language and sensuality
Running time: 110 min.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu, Brandon Merrill, Roger Yuan
Director: Tom Dey
Screenplay: Miles Millar, Alfred Gough
Review published May 24, 2000
Chon Wang (Chan, Rush Hour) -- which not so coincidentally sounds like John Wayne -- is an Imperial Guard in China, sworn to protect the Emperor and his family. Princess Pei Pei (Liu, Payback) is kidnapped and Chon joins the mission to travel to America and get her back. While in Nevada, Chon and the gang are on a train which is held up by a gang of bandits. A scuffle ensues, which results in Chon and Roy (Wilson, The Haunting), the head of the bandits, on their own with one in pursuit of the princess and the other in pursuit of some gold sent to pay off her ransom. Through misfortune the two are forced to pair together and merge their pursuits.
Shanghai Noon (a play on the classic Western title High Noon) is basically a spoof of two genres, the Western and the Hong Kong action flick. During the course of the narrative, there's the typical gratuitous bar fights, horse-punching, showdowns and the usual Western clichés.
Albeit a pedestrian endeavor, with a retread script and standard direction, it must be said that Shanghai Noon definitely delivers on entertainment, as the two stars carry the film with their own special blend of quirky charm that breathes life into tired lungs. Despite starring the world's #2 action star, it's the performance by Owen Wilson that steals the show, with an anachronistically goofy portrayal of Roy the bandit.
There's not as much fighting as you'd expect in a Jackie Chan movie, with much more emphasis on the comedy, which is pleasant even if it's not laugh-out-loud funny. As long as you aren't expecting to see a good movie, you'll probably enjoy watching the two leads play off each other so much you'll leave the theater thinking it was time and money well-spent.
-- Followed by Shanghai Knights (2003)
©2000 Vince Leo