Shanghai Noon

     Shanghai Noon – “C’mon Roy, you can do it.  Ah, no you can’t.  He’s gonna kill ya.”  This was ALMOST a great film, but it’s still a great movie to watch.  East meets West…Karate meets gunfights….Indians, Chinese, and cowboys….What’s not to like?  Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson team up in this action comedy and you get the best of both worlds.  The movie starts off great, but somewhere along the line loses focus on the plot.  However, the chemistry of Chan and Wilson is undeniable and you will enjoy watching the film regardless.  The comedy is hilarious and the action scenes get your adrenaline pumping.  The old west shootouts with Wilson’s melodrama is perfect and the spoof of Lee Van Cleef is just fun for fans of the spaghetti western genre.  Rated 79% at rotton tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, you won’t be disappointed.

Plot – The plot is almost secondary to the film, but here goes.  The Chinese Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) escapes China to avoid an arranged marriage.  In reality, she’s unknowingly kidnapped and they demand gold for her return.  Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) and other Imperial Guards are sent to America to retrieve her.  On the train to Carson City, it is attacked by western train robbers.  The gang includes Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson), but his group also includes a crazy Texan who kills Wang’s uncle.  They struggle, but Wang escapes the gang.  Wang is lost, but comes across Roy buried up to his neck.  In exchange for directions, he “helps” Roy out.  Following Roy’s directions, he climbs over the mountains and notices war indians chasing an indian boy from a different tribe.  Wang saves him in typical Chan style and is brought back to the good indian tribe where he accidentally marries an indian girl.  Wang finds Roy in a bar and they fight and get arrested.  Wang’s indian wife saves them, but now they’re a team and out to save the princess.  They finally meet the bad guys in an abandoned church to deliver the ransom.  A shootout takes place where they save the princess and she wants to stay in America.

Commentary – The movie has an excellent story going on, but essentially has too much going on to close it out.  However, the jokes are funny and not necessarily politically correct.  The spoof of old American westerns is excellent.  “Chon Wang” translated by Roy to “John Wayne?…That’s a terrible western name.”  And Marshall Nathan Van Cleef pays homage to Lee Van Cleef character from many spaghetti westerns like “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” is funny.  “How do you survive out here?” he asks Roy.  Some language is strong, but it’s not too bad of a movie for middle aged kids.  The action is typical Jackie Chan.  Bottomline is that it’s a great film to watch…even if not a truly great film.  I recommend getting the combo dvd with Shanghai Knights.  While “Knights” isn’t as good as “Noon”, it’s still a good film to enjoy as well.  Besides, from a cost standpoint, it just makes sense.

Trivia – The catchy quote in the film “I don’t know karate, I know crazy” is actually a line from a James Brown song.  Actress Brandon Merrill, who plays Wang’s indian wife Falling Leaves, is a real life rodeo champion.  The Chinese characters in the background of the opening credits are excerpts from a translation of “The Frog Prince”

*** Just click the images to check out “Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Nights” at Amazon.com ***


Men In Black

     Men In Black – “We’re not hosting an intergalactic kegger down here.”  In May 2012, Men In Black III will be unleashed on the American public, a full 10 years since MIB II was released.  Before that happens, we should take time to revisit the movies that started it all.  In 1997, Men In Black was a clever take on aliens featuring a secret govt society that helps aliens immigrate and fit into society as well as protect us from the bad ones.  Will Smith & Tommy Lee Jones were spectalucar as a team and their interaction throughout the film gave it a strong comedic tone.  Rated a 91% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, this movie is a fun ride.

Plot – Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is a member of a secret alien control group of the govt.  He identifies a NYPD detective James Darrell Edwards III (Will Smith) as a replacement of his retiring partner after observing him follow a diguised alien.  He invites him to headquarters where he is given a test along with several military guys.  James uses common sense to pass the test.  He’s offered the job, but given the catch that he now doesn’t “exist”.  He accepts and is dubbed Agent J.  J has a hard time learning about the technology and how the MIB operate because common sense is now out the window.  They investigate an alien landing and discover that a bug has landed, killed a man, and using his skin as a disquise.  The bug is after the “galaxy”.  K & J go to the morgue where 2 Arquillians disguised as humans had been killed and taken there with their pet cat.  At the morgue, Dr. Weaver (Linda Fiorentino) reveals his disguise, sees the alien and hears his message about the “galaxy”.  The Arquillians are now threatening the planet demanding the “galaxy” or they will destroy the Earth.  They leave in search of the “galaxy” and are puzzled.  When K & J realize the “galaxy” is on the cat, they rush back to find the bug is there.  He escapes kidnapping Dr. Weaver to get on a spaceship to go back.  K & J catch him there and must do battle to defeat the bug and save the planet.

Commentary – Men In Black was a funny and clever sci-fi film and the banter of the 2 stars will keep you laughing.  It’s like watching a father and son bicker.  Some language is strong, but it is a pretty safe family movie.  The plot is not that critical and the enjoyment of the movie is in the back and forth between J & K and a different way of viewing life.  It’s also a humorous look at man’s arrogance and how other species might view us.  To the right is a picture from MIB II, which should also be watched again soon.  It’s not as good as the original and basically just cashes in on the concept, but it is still entertaining once Tommy Lee Jones is involved.  Do not expect much from this one as Laura Flynn Boyle is not believable as the villain.  However, the entertainment value is still pretty good.  Before seeing MIB III, you want to be back up to speed since it has been 10 years since MIB II was released.

Trivia – Clint Eastwood was offered the role as K and Chris O’Donnell (Batman & Robin) was offered the role as J.  I believe this film would have been a disaster with those 2 as the stars.  After reading the script, Will Smith did not want to accept the role, but his wife convinced him.  See guys, listen to your wives.  The sunglasses used in the film are rayban “Predator 2” glasses and once the film released, sales tripled for the glasses.

*** Just click the images to check out “Men in Black & Men in Black II” at Amazon.com ***