Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Great character chemistry.
As a kid, Jackie Chan was one of my heroes. To be more specific, he was the “hero of kung-fu” in my heart. While other actors fulfilled other genres, Chan was the go-to guy for movies with a lot of humorous fighting and family-oriented themes that many can enjoy and respect. He’s great at what he does, so I don’t think the plots to the movies he did ever mattered to me – I just loved him. I can still respect the man for everything he does, but I guess there are some films that aren’t done as well as I remember them doing. That being said, Shanghai Noon was one of the series that he did that I still will stick up for. That and Rush Hour. This first film in the series reminded me a lot of why I loved this film the first time around, and gave me new respect for different reasons entirely. Let’s start with plot.
After the princess of the Forbidden City is kidnapped, Chon Wang and three imperial guards are sent to retrieve her from Carson City, Nevada. The time is of the old west, so you can expect some fish out of water scenarios. Along the adventure, Wang runs into Roy O’Bannon, who mistakes Wang’s name for John Wayne, and the two fight off Native Americans and evil sheriffs on their quest to free the princess.
You know one of the main reasons I love this film? It’s because an element the movie uses hasn’t really been seen before, and that’s mixing Asian martial arts with the old west. There’s just something about Cowboys and Indians running into an Asian martial arts expert that feels so right and fits right in that a part of you wonders why they’ve never done this before. It’s seemingly perfect. Owen Wilson as the unlikely cowboy bandit is hilarious, and his run-ins and screen time with Jackie Chan are priceless. They work so incredibly well together that I’d almost want to see a modern tale with the same actors playing opposite each other. However, I guess that’s what Chris Tucker is for.
In a way, I suppose you really could say this is Rush Hour in the old west, but I wouldn’t claim as much. Sure, some of the humor and chemistry is similar, even has a fish out of water theme, but the story and setting is different enough to be two completely different stories. The story itself is not…amazing. It’s…the classic save the princess story seen in a thousand other movies, the story could have been better. However, the writing for what it was, was great.
Written by Smallville creaters, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the dialogue and chemistry is off the charts. These guys know what they are doing most the time. Part of what makes Jackie Chan so great of an actor isn’t just his ability to do amazing stunts and fights, but also deliver humorous scenes, and that’s what Gough and Millar were able to do. Shanghai Noon is a prime example of why Jackie Chan is amazing, and Owen Wilson sure does a fantastic job opposite Chan.
Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson’s chemistry and the amazingly fresh idea of Asian martial arts next to cowboys and Indians in the old west.
The story wasn’t completely original. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar could have easily created a story without the cliché save the princess storyline.
[in his head, trying to psych himself up before a duel]
Roy O’Bannon: C’mon Roy, you can do it! Ah, no you can’t, he’s gonna kill ya.