Shanghai Noon (2000)

Directed by Tom Dey
Written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar
Starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu, Xander Berkeley, Roger Yuan

My Advice: Wait and Rent It.

Chon (Chan) feels personally responsible for the kidnapping of the lovely Princess Pei Pei (Liu), so he accompanies the group of imperial guards who leave China for America in order to bring her back. Roy (Wilson) is an outlaw, albeit not a very good one, who just so happens to cross Chon's path in Nevada. Chon wants the princess. Roy wants the gold being used for ransom...and yeah, well, he wants the princess too. Can the two of them, one from the East, one from the West, put aside their differences and work together? Or will they be killed by any of a number of perils they will face?

Yes, I know what you're thinking--couple Jackie Chan with a funny but incompatible sidekick and watch the laughs fly and the money roll in. It sure happened with Rush Hour, why not now? Well, that's a good question, but Touchstone can relax: because this film works. This one, other than Jackie's over-the-top action/stunt sequences (which do not in the least disappoint, have no fear), seems to be at opposites with the Chan/Tucker combination. Cops in the first film, misunderstood outlaws in this one. Tucker's motormouth in the first film, Wilson's slightly charming, slightly goofy demeanor in this one.

In fact, this film seems to be one that others should sit down and watch--perhaps they could learn from them. Where Wild Wild West leaned entirely on humor about race, this film jokes on Native Americans, whites, blacks, Jews and more--and I never felt as though it were forced or (as in West) just flat unfunny. While we're on the subject, Romeo Must Die should learn from this how to have long stretches between kick-ass fight sequences not seem like they're quite so long. This is done with--God forbid--likable characters with decent situations and dialogue.

Okay, enough with the comparisons. Chan is in fine form, with some of the best fight sequences I've seen him accomplish. Wilson is an excellent choice for his role, rambling on and on endlessly (even internally during a showdown). The two share the screen well and it was easy to believe their shaky partnership. Lucy Liu isn't given much to do here, although she gets some good kicks off that shows the Charlie's Angels movie might be worth catching after all.

The script and direction are fine as well, giving plenty of western genre homages that, if you're well versed with the classics, will have you roaring--and the title is just the beginning. All in all, it's a fun little flick that Chan or western buffs should go check out at a matinee. All others should consider their wallet, as we've classified it here as a rental.

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