A 19th century Western. Chon Wang is a clumsy Imperial Guard to the Emperor of China. When Princess Pei Pei is kidnapped from the Forbidden City, Wang feels personally responsible and insists on joining the guards sent to rescue the Princess, who has been whisked away to the United States. In Nevada and hot on the trail of the kidnappers, Wang is separated from the group and soon finds himself an unlikely partner with Roy O'Bannon, a small time robber with delusions of grandeur. Together, the two forge onto one misadventure after another. Written by
When Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) is kidnapped and taken to American by Lo Fong (Roger Yuan), the honour guard of The Forbidden City is dispatched to deliver the ransom and bring her back. Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) accompanies the guards on their journey and finds himself entangled with Indians, cowboys and the greedy attentions of train robber Roy O'Brannon (Owen Wilson).
This is essentially a mismatched buddy movie transferred to the American West and in that respect it is not exact an original plot, there aren't any great twists to grab you and a lot of the plot drivers are forced or predictable. However let's be honest - we're not hear for the plot! As with the Rush Hour movies, the plot is secondary to the comedy and the fight scenes. Here Owen Wilson provides the comedy as the laid back train robber while Jackie Chan provides the action and the comedy. The strength here is that this is a little unassuming film that will take you by surprise. The chemistry between Wilson and Chan is effortless and is as comfortable as the Chan/Tucker combo. Wilson's character is hilarious in a very easy way - he is clearly so out of place in the West and partially accepts it but also wants to be more than he is, as one of the bad guys put it "you're terrible. How have it made it this long?"
Chan again shows that he is the closest we have to a modern day Chaplin, he is as good at interacting with Wilson as he is with the physical comedy that is his trademark. One complaint is that, as with Rush Hour, we could probably have done with a few more fight scenes. However the comedy more than fills any voids that are between fights.
Other cast members are little more than excuses for the action. Roger Yuan and Xander Berkeley provide good baddies (Berkeley especially) but Lucy Liu is almost in her own little 'serious' movie and doesn't have much to do except be rescued (although she does show some of her "Charlie's Angels" potential in a fight scene towards the end).
Overall a gentle enjoyable comedy that is made all the more enjoyable by the ease by which it succeeds at making you laugh. Chan's fights are a little less impressive than other films but he excels in the comedy stakes. One very good thing is the customary outtakes at the end - unlike Rush Hour 2 they are NOT funnier than the rest of the film.
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