Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger
Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu
Director: Tom Dey
Jackie Chan’s latest and possibly best movie to date, SHANGHAI NOON is probably best described as a comedy / western, with some kung-fu thrown in.
Jackie Chan plays Chon Wang, a member of China’s Imperial Guard, who is sent to the USA to rescue a kidnapped Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu), who he also has noticed, and been noticed by, in a romantic way. On his journey he meets Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson) who plays a ‘good’ outlaw. They eventually team up and together embark on a mission to rescue the princess.
I know this sounds like a very simple outline but so many events happen along the way it actually makes a very entertaining film. The kung-fu action sequences are superb. They are not filmed in a Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme sort of way (I know they don’t do kung-fu but you know what I mean). Jackie Chan’s routines are incredibly skilled and clever but also somehow humorous. Also Jackie Chan does all his own stunts and they are not trick photography. Quite amazing if you watch the film.
Owen Wilson plays his character like someone who has jumped from the present into the past using vocabulary and references that would not have existed in the period of the movie, but it works!
The only thing in the movie that is a bit out of place is at the beginning of the film as Jackie Chan overhears a secret conversation and repeats the words to himself as if to show the audience he is listening in. Also there seems to be a bit of an age gap between Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu for the romantic attraction to be shown in the way that it is, although this is probably unfair as I’m sure in real life someone of Jackie Chan’s age or older could easily date someone of Lucy Liu’s age, it’s just in the context of the film it’s questionable, although fortunately this is not really played on as the film unfolds.
As a matter of fact some of the over-simplified acting in the first scenes of the film in China don’t seem to continue past the point they enter the USA. The film somehow seems to find it’s feet and becomes entertaining.
Don’t leap out of your seats though at the end of the movie, stay to watch the outtakes that have been thrown in. They are hilarious. Especially the scene in the bath and Jackie and Owen charging at the doors. I’m not saying anymore than that!