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Shanghai Noon (DVD, 2000) Reviews
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Shanghai Noon (DVD, 2000)

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"John Wayne"? Thatís a terrible name for a cowboy!

Feb 5, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Nice parod,y lots of action, quite a bit of humour, Chan, Wilson, Yuan...

Cons:... not as much humour as there could have been, pacing a little too slow...

The Bottom Line: Shanghai Noon is a lovely film that you'll enjoy even if, like myself, you're not really a fan of Westerns.


In Shanghai Noon Imperial Guard Chon Wang gets himself volunteered for a crucial job – rescuing Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Lui), who has been kidnapped by some bad dudes and taken to the United States. While there he meets Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson), and after a very shaky start, they team up to attempt the rescue. Their efforts are resisted by the aforementioned bad guys (most noticeably the evil Lo Fong (Roger Yuan), but of course Chon Wang’s martial arts and O’Bannon’s… … … well, whatever it is he’s got, help them out.

Essentially a buddy / culture clash movie, I wasn’t really all the impressed with Shanghai Noon the first time I saw it, but watching it again I appreciated it a whole lot more. This is because there were a lot of little touches and nuances that I missed the first time round, partly because I’m really not a fan of Westerns so missed some of the satire. Perhaps satire is too strong a word, most of it was simple parody, but it was nicely done. The storyline was a bit silly but there were plenty of sumptuously choreographed brawls and quite a bit of humour. The main plotline – saving the princess with the silly name – was actually fairly mundane, the strength of the movie definitely comes from the combination Wilson as the well-intentioned (and thus unsuccessful) train robber and Chan as the well-meaning but incompetent guard that makes it so enjoyable. Don’t think they’re just two good guys though - the fact that they’re well-meaning doesn’t make them particularly nice people or above subterfuge, especially in the early sequences.

Lucy Lui isn’t one of my favourite actresses and she doesn’t have much to do here, being basically eye candy. Roger Yuan particularly and also Xander Berkeley give good performances as the bad guys, The Chan-Wilson combination works very well, largely I think due to the sincerity of Chan’s character and the wide-eyed innocent stupidity of Wilson’s. There are quite a few very funny scenes, though really it’s not a film hat will have you laughing out loud many times. There’ll be a quiet smile on your face the whole way through though, and the blend of action and humour is nicely done. Even without the humour I think it would have held up as quite a watchable film; with it, it’s enjoyable not only the first time but even more so on repeat viewings.

Yet somehow I don’t quite rate Shanghai Noon as a 5-star movie – the pacing is just that little bit too slow and certain scenes just felt like they should have been funnier than they were. I still very much enjoyed the film, and perhaps my expectations were a little skewed because I’d seen the sequel first. At any rat, if I despite not liking Westerns much enjoyed this, you’ll love it even more if you do like that genre. Definitely a nice film for those quiet evenings in.

Other Information

Director: Tom Dey
Year of release: 2000
Runtime: 110 minutes (perhaps if it was a little shorter, or had a little more action and humour, it would have been pretty much perfect)
Rating: 12 (UK) PG-13 (for action violence, some drug humour, language and sensuality – that sounds worse than it is, there really isn’t much that most people would find offensive)

Quotes

Roy O'Bannon: Ooooh... who's the pretty lady?
Chon Wang: That's my wife!
Roy O'Bannon: How long you been in this country?
Chon Wang: Four days.
Roy O'Bannon: Nice work.

--------

Chon Wang: [Shaking his hand] My name is Chon Wang.
Roy O'Bannon: John Wayne?
Chon Wang: Chon Wang.
Roy O'Bannon: That's a terrible cowboy name!
Chon Wang: Why?
Roy O'Bannon: No, come on. That's not gonna work. That's horrible; that's so bad! And so's the ponytail!

--------

Marshal Nathan Van Cleef: How about that? It's a Mexican standoff. Only we ain't got no Mexicans.

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Roy O'Bannon: Now I'm gonna have to get rid of my outlaw name, it just won't work anymore. My real name's Wyatt Earp.

--------

Reading a reward poster]
Roy O'Bannon: The Shanghai Kid. This is terrible!
Chon Wang: I know. I'm not from Shanghai.

--------

Probably the funniest line of the film in context (you’ll have to find out for yourself…)

”Could be worse… at least he's not a White man!”


Shanghai Noon was followed up by the less subtle and more hectic Shanghai Knights, which many who loved Noon weren’t very happy with. I love both but they’re actually quite different types of movie despite having the same characters. Some will consider it little less than sacrilege that I marginally prefer the second film… but I’m afraid I won’t lose any sleep about that…

Tom Dey also directed the 2006 romantic comedy Failure To Launch.


Recommend this product? Yes

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