John Hwang
Shanghai Noon
Review by Ross Anthony

East meets wild west in Jackie Chan's Hollywood latest. Chan, who's as cute as a toddler in a bathtub, teams up with Owen Wilson, a Seinfeld rambler with a quick tongue and golden smile. The pairing works like a charm. In fact, the film nearly blew the top off the theater, save for a few quirks and the standard fight scene ending.

Lucy Liu (Princess Pei Pei) is kidnapped and held for ransom in Carson City, Nevada. Chan and three other imperial guards are sent from China to rescue her. However, Owen Wilson's gang of bandits rob their train, derailing the original plan. It's a good ol' fashion cowboys, Indians, and Chinamen picture.

But, after the midpoint, the production becomes more of a sequence of wonderfully original and funny scenes than a coherent piece. It's too bad, because had the filmmakers been able to keep both those barrels focused, the shot would have been a double bull's eye. Still, in a season not graced by many good films, that one-barrel packs a powerful bullet. I had a great time!

I'd first seen Owen Wilson in a little film called "Bottle Rocket" a couple years back. He was as outstanding then as he is now. I'm confident "Shanghai Noon" will give him the recognition he deserves, "I don't know karate, but I know Ka..razy and I will use it." Of course, Jackie continues to be lovable - how could you not like this guy? The cinematography and music are solid. Even the script is wonderful - save for the climax. Not that it was bad, it's just that a marvelous cast of characters had been created and built up well; the climax failed to utilize this huge potential. Aside, from Wilson's uncommonly rich standoff with the sheriff, the rest of the climax plays out as you'd expect (in contrast to the freshness of the rest of the film). And then to top it off the resolution goes way silly.

Best to have ended the film on a freeze frame -- depicted in the picture above. Despite falling short of what it could have been, "Shanghai Noon" still kicks butt. I recommend it heartily.

(Revision notes: Warning: ending info given, read at your own risk.).

  • Shanghai Noon. Copyright © 2000. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu, Brandon Merril, Roger Yuan, Xander Berkeley, Walton Goggins.
  • Directed by Tom Dey. Written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar.
  • Produced by Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jonathan Glickman at Spyglass/Touchstone.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:53:40 PDT