Shanghai Noon

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There hasn't been a good spoof Western since Blazing Saddles. Until now.

Jackie Chan combines the talents of an acrobat, martial artist and comic actor with extraordinary courage and invention. Here he plays Chon Wang, a lowly member of the Imperial Guard from The Forbidden City, in 1881, who accompanies his uncle, the emperor's translater, a crate of gold and three other Imperial Guards to the wild, wild West.

Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) has been abducted and taken to an outpost in Indian country, where Chinese forced labour is employed to build a railroad. The Peking delegation has been instructed to find the princess, pay the ransom and bring her home.

During a running battle with train robbers, led by the charming incompetent, Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), Chon Wang is seperated from the rest. He encounters Red Indians, who give him a wife and a new name, Man Who Fights In Dress, later catching up with O'Bannon, with whom he joins forces, riding to Culver City with a price on his head.

There are numerous references to famous Westerns, with writers, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, quick on the draw. In Chan's last outing, Rush Hour, he teamed with black stand-up comedian, Chris Tucker, to great effect. This time his double act with Wilson, who provides a laid-back impersonation of The Sundance Kid, is less confrontational, although equally entertaining.

Chan's fight choreography is always imaginative. He likes to use ordinary objects, such as a horseshoe or moose horns, and do hilarious things with them. The extent of his skill continues to amaze, even down to the choice of co-star. There is a modesty about him that underplays the danger of stunt work, which is never faked. The honesty of his style is appreciated as much as his sense of humour. For all the budding Van Dammes and second generation Segals, there is only one Jackie Chan.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Imperial guard from The Forbidden City, Peking, has comic adventures in wild, wild West.
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Director: Tom Dey

Writer: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar

Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu, Brandon Merrill, Roger Yuan, Xander Berkeley, Rongguang Yu, Ya Hi Cui, Eric Chen, Jason Connery, Walton Goggins

Year: 2000

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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