Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California's pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) -- and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) -- to take action.
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
The Best Action/Comedy/Buddy/Martial Arts/Western of the Week
Final Score: 8.9 (out of 10)
Of all of the `east-meets-west' scenarios Hollywood has concocted to showcase the talents of international action star Jackie Chan, Shanghai Noon turns out to be the most fun and surprisingly fresh yet. His American partner this time is one blonde haired Owen Wilson in his first big lead role. Chan and Wilson have more chemistry and are more fun to watch then Chan and 'Rush Hour' co-star Chris Tucker ever were. Not to mention the high concept setting that successfully mixes the buddy comedy, a Hong Kong martial arts movie and an old American western (the deadest of generas). It is the 18th century. Chan is imperial guard Chon Wang who winds up alone in the old west searching for the Chinese royal family's kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu, thankfully with little screen time). Wilson is, and I remember it so well because it just sounds like a typical cowboy name, Roy O'Bannon - a hapless, 2-bit train robber with an even more incompetent team behind him. Wilson gets huge laughs with his motor mouth and that constantly befuddled look on his face. He looks like he'd rather be surfing. It isn't long before a series of events throws them together and send each into a little bout with culture shock. In typical buddy movie style they are at each others throats one minute and in a tub bonding over drinking games the next. There may be a cliché here and there but watching these two bounce off each other is so exuberant and entertaining it's hardly noticeable.
'Shanghai Noon' is helmed by first-time director Tom Dey who makes a remarkable debut. Dey lobs the gags at us, well timed and many times from the periphery of our vision (something noticeably lost when the movie is seen in a pan-and-scan version). O'Bannon's first stage coach robbery and a scene with a drunken Jackie Chan and his drunken horse are absolute riots. The movie also has put equal time into the action department. There are a lot of great fights and action set pieces in here allowing Chan to show off his magic. He makes use of ropes, trees, antlers and all sorts of props when improvising in some terrific - and even exciting - fight scenes. The cocktail premise of 'Shanghai Noon' is so original that it is only in those patented Chan moments where we are brought back into being aware that this is `a Jackie Chan vehicle'. At nearly 2 solid hours the movie threatens to drag, but have no fear. It has enough wit and creativity up it's sleeve to grab our interest and not let go. Many recent action movies are long for the sake of it, but Noon makes ample use of it's time to give us a fully realized and satisfying comedic adventure. And with Dey and two comic pros like Chan and Wilson driving the antics, Shanghai Noon is a hoot and a half.
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