Martial Arts Western
Shanghai Noon
Dir: Tom Dey
Star: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Lui
Cert / Year: 12 - PG12 / 2000
Format: DVD R1

It is the end of the nineteenth century and Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) is a Chinese Forbidden City Imperial guard tasked with the safety of the Emperor's family. When Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Lui) is kidnapped and taken to the Wild West of America, he is part of the group sent to pay the ransom. Unfortunately things don't quite go to plan and he ends up teaming up with Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) part time outlaw, ladies man, and quite frankly a hopeless cowboy. What follows is a story of cowboys, Indians, kung fu and comedy.

Sandwiched in between the Rush Hour movies this is one of Jackie Chan's new style of American comedy action movies. This means that the insurance man had the final say on the stunts, but the acting and production values will be much higher. It also means that the films are primarily in English (bar a small number of sub titled scenes). With films like Rush Hour, The Matrix and Crouching Tiger opening the door for the Hong Kong cinema style it is no accident that Jackie Chan has finally broken into the American market, and with great success.

The reason why his movies have been better than many of the other Hong Kong actors is that he can actually act. His comic timing is excellent and his brand of comedy martial arts is unsurpassed. This added to fact that he is clever in choosing films has lead to a series of very good movies, and Shanghai Noon is no exception. This is a fun film. It is full of laughs and action it is one of the best western comedies for years.

The reason why stems from the excellent double act formed by Chan and Wilson. Owen Wilson just gets better with each film he appears in. His style of laid back comedy is excellent and mixes superbly with the high energy of Jackie Chan. This is the key to the film and the it is why it works so well. Ok so not all of the jokes work but more do than don't, and Jackie and Owen are so likeable you can't help but empathise with them. Apart from the main men the rest of the cast works well.

Ok so what about the action? As I mentioned near the top of the review the limitations of working in America mean that the death deifying stunts of Chan's earlier career are out. However this doesn't stop some brilliantly staged fight scenes occurring, with the Indian fight and the end battle being especially effective. Unfortunately this is let down with dodgy CGI replacing the more difficult stunts. This is a real shame, but due to Chan's advancing age it is may be understandable.

Shanghai Noon has many laughs, and loads of action. It has a great comic paring in the lead roles, which ensures that the film is a hit. Mix this with some beautifully shot scenery and all of the Wild West clichés you can think of and you have one of the best comedy westerns ever. Chan fans may be a little disappointed with the stunts, but this film should win a legion of new fans for him. I can't wait for the sequel Shanghai Knights where our heroes take on Victorian London!


The old west meets the far east


(Roy to Chon) Remember you are not in the east any more, you are in the west, and the sun doesn't rise here, it sets.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Nice clean modern picture
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Great sound
Features Commentary by Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson and Tom Dey
7 interesting deleted scenes including an amusing CGI train wreck scene
Short Featurettes on Film's Production, the Stunts, the Special Effects, Jackie Chan's Unique Comedic Style
Shanghai Surprise
Action Overload featurette looking at the stunts
Great Music Video
Verdict Another top quality modern release.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home