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    review by Luca Brasi                   Full Review List

Shanghai Noon

Chon Wang: "Why don't I pretend I'm sick, and then you can attack them when they come in?"

Roy O'Bannon: "Oh, does the sick prisoner routine still work in China? 'Cause here, it has been done to death!"

Such is the humour of Shanghai Noon, a rather clever spoof of the stereotypical spaghetti western, combined with the stereotypical Jackie Chan film. Set in the wild west, it tells the story of a lovestruck Imperial Guard, (Chan) who journeys with soldiers to America, guarding the ransom money for the kidnapped Princess Pei Pei (A pre-Charlie's Angels Lucy Liu). Trouble is that plan falls short of expectations, and after a band of bandits try and rob the train the Chinese soldiers are travelling on, Jackie finds himself separated in the ensuing confusion. His only hope to rescue the Princess is to attempt to find her himself, so he understandably seeks the help of the gang's leader, Roy O'Bannon (the very funny Owen Wilson - and I'm sure that his character's initials were a bad joke) who has himself suddenly gone solo because of his gang's mutiny.

Well, that's the pretty thin set-up but it makes for some great scenes. While Rush Hour often suffered from Chris Tucker's constant barrage of "Christuckerisms", Owen Wilson constantly comes out with a one-liner for every flying acrobatic Jackie Chan performs on a villain. What makes the film even better is that while it shows off the comedy skills of Wilson and the fighting skills of Chan, it sneakily points out every cliche of the westerns, such as the train robberies, the saloon fights, the stays in sheriff's jail... even one of the bad guys is called Marshall Van Cleef (After Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood's antagonist in The Good, the Bad and The Ugly).

I'm serious though when I say this film's hilarious. I watched it in the cinema and again (a few times) on video and have recommended it to a lot of pleased customers. So go and get it (on DVD if you can for the deleted scenes which God knows why were cut), laugh, and see it again and again. This is probably Jackie's best stuff since "Rumble In The Bronx" and I doubt anyone cared about or even knew Owen Wilson (biggest role until now; blond oil driller who dies in Armageddon) before this film. Hopefully everyone else will sit up and take note of him. To conclude, it's a funny film, a clever satire of Westerns (not as good as "Blazing Saddles though) and a cool, cool film overall.

Just one gripe: the incredibly groan worthy title... a play on Gary Cooper's "High Noon", only Jackie Chan is Chinese, and the princess has been shanghaied... oh dear, that joke's bad.

Roy O'Bannon: "My name's Roy O' Bannon."

Chon Wang: (in Chinese accent) "Chon Wang".

Roy O'Bannon: "*John Wayne*? That's a terrible cowboy name! That's not going to work. And neither is the ponytail!"

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