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 ***

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