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Movie Review

Shanghai Noon

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for action violence, some drug humor, language and sensuality

Reviewed by: Nick Graham
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Comedy Action Adventure
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
_____
Relevant Issues
Poster—Shanghai Noon.

ROYALTY of the Bible: Kings / Queens / Princes

Drunkenness in the Bible

Featuring: Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Owen Wilson, Curtis Armstrong, Sammo Hung
Director: Tom Dey
Producer: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures

“Shanghai Noon” is one of those unexpected sleepers that comes out of nowhere and leaves you with an experience much more satisfying than what most heavily hyped summer blockbusters can provide.

After finally pulling a definite crossover into American pop culture with the surprise comedy smash “Rush Hour” with Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan is back with another action/comedy/buddy vehicle, this time set in the old west and costarring the soon-to-be breakout star of the summer Owen Wilson (“Armageddon,” “The Haunting,” co-writer of last year’s critical fave “Rushmore”).

Scene from “Shanghai Noon” starring Jackie Chan.

Chan plays Chong Wang (get it?), a Chinese imperial guard sent to old west era Nevada to rescue China’s princess (played by Lucy Liu of “Ally McBeal” fame) from a traitorous former imperial guard who gives Chinese immigrants promises of freedom in America, only to enslave them in his mining camp once they get there.

Wilson plays an alternately bumbling yet effortlessly charming outlaw named Roy O’Bannon, who at first teams with Chan with only the intention of stealing the gold ransom Chan and his fellow imperial guards have brought over to get back the princess, but because this is still a Hollywood buddy film, he of course has a change of heart at the end. With Wilson’s humor and charm and Chan’s charm, fancy footwork and slapstick (not to mention his improving English), “Shanghai Noon” rises above its cliched genre, and comes out a winner, despite running a little too long at the end.

From a Christian perspective “Shanghai Noon” is not given a “PG-13” for nothing. Language is prevalent throughout the film (even the Indians curse in subtitles!), though thankfully, we are spared from many instances of the Lord’s name in vain, and the film has zero f-words (impressive for a modern PG-13 film). In terms of sexuality, drug use, drinking, etc… well, the films single biggest laughs come from a sequence where our heroes our playing a Chinese drinking game while bathing in a brothel (though no women are present during the scene). It’s a Western-themed comedy, so brothels and saloon jokes are expected (not to mention the scene when Chong uses the Indian’s peace pipe a little too judiciously). As far as sexuality, Roy comes across as a regular patron of brothels and saloons, and after the aforementioned peace pipe scene, Chong wakes up next to an Indian princess who is soon forced upon him by the tribe as his wife. This film doesn’t earn an “R”, but it earns its “PG-13” easily, so parents should be aware of the content.

Bottom Line: A funny, action-packed 2 hours, but in terms of offensive content, a double-edged sword… I leave the decision in your court.


Viewer Comments
“Chon Wang? What kind of a cowboy name is that?” Roy says this and the entire theater erupted in laughter. This is the best movie I’ve seen all summer and I’ve seen about 7. It’s funny and owns a great story. I must say I cringed when Chon’s ponytail was cut off. I have a close Chinese friend and he says a ponytail to a Chinese guard is his prize possession and once it is cut, he cannot return to China ever again. But one little thing can’t spoil a Jackie Chan movie. If you like cowboy flicks and love good ol' Jackie Chan, this movie is without a doubt for you. In fact, I would like to see this “uno mas” time again. My Ratings: [3½/5]
—Andrew Gibson, age 14
“Shanghai Noon” is an example of a funny movie. Although there are scenes where people drug themselves into a stupor (peace pipe) and brothel jokes, as well as excessive drinking (the Chinese drinking game), there are many positive moral messages. The value of friendship, the importance of life (Owen Wilson begins to appreciate seeing mountains and the sky after he is nearly hanged), and loyalty (the Indian woman who Jackie Chan marries and then ignores most of the time continues to save him from all sorts of problems) are stressed in the movie, and Owen Wilson’s character miraculously survives a gunfight in a church, which he credits to God as a “miracle” (although his repeated yelling of “I am invincible” may make the audience think otherwise). All in all, “Shanghai Noon” is a decent movie and a subgenre in itself. However, it is not appropriate for those under 12-13. My Ratings: [3/4]
—Matt Quinn, age 15
I can’t beleive such high moral rating was given to this film. I went into the movie expecting to laugh a lot and came out completely offended. There were countless slams on Christianity including a horrible mockery of God in a church. I give this a moral rating of 1, and that only because of the loyalty of the two main characters. My Ratings: [1/2½]
—Christy Mellecker, age 19
Action packed and fun! If you like Jackie Chan’s brilliant mix of action and humor you will love this movie. Some profanity including 2 God D**m and several uses of Sh*t, but no f-words. No sex, but there is a couple of suggestive remarks. The violence was not at ALL graphic just a lot of it. This movie would have been a great family movie had they left out the cussing. Still though, if your looking for action, comedy and some of the most amazing martial arts you’ve ever seen, see “Shanghai Noon”. My Ratings: [2½/4]
—Toby Flournoy, age 15
3/4ths of the movie was enjoyable entertainment and humor—some bad language and sexual innuendo’s did not fit with the era and the biggest turnoff was at the end when the final fight scene with blood and gunshots were in a church. Hollywood holds nothing sacred for Christianity, but there would never be such a gunfighting scene in a temple (the Japanese or Jewish people would never stand for it—why do Christians?) My Ratings: [2½/3½]
—Mary Andret, age 44
This movie will have you laughing until your stomach hurts. It’s a good one for teens and adults. My Ratings: [3/3½]
—LeAnna Martinez, age 21
It is one of the best Easter-Western genre I have seen in a long time. It is well made except where some of Hong Kong fight scene has been tamed down, yet it worked well with the broad audiences. If you are picky, I still recommend this movie. Jackie and Owen did a great job of providing humorous bouts. My Ratings: [3½/3]
—Mang Yang, age 28
A good movie for action, but extreme amounts of offensive language, including using God’s name in vain. My Ratings: [2/3]
—Thomas, age 44
Jackie Chan does it again. While many think Jackie is getting too old for his hilarious martial-arts misadventures, this is one of his most cleverly choreographed movies to date, as well as one of his funniest. Every aspect of a classic Western is touched on, from Indians to showdowns. Mix in excellent chemistry between Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson, as well as some incredible fight sequences (including one where Jackie utilizes a horseshoe tied to a rope) and you’ve got a real winner. It’s unfortunate that this movie contained some sexual references, mostly contained within a couple involving prostitutes (although there are no bedroom scenes in the movie), and some bad language. Still, this is quite an enjoyable film and if you’re a fan of martial arts films or westerns, you should definitely see the film. My Ratings: [2/4]
—Ben Berntsen, age 16
Nobody performs stunts like Jackie Chan. And while James Bond and “Mission: Impossible” set out on the serious venture of saving the world; Jackie Chan films bring justice while having fun. “Shanghai Noon” takes this approach to the wild west—or should I say east. “Shanghai Noon” never takes itself seriously. Jackie Chan vs the natives with tomahawks? Why not? Martial arts in the saloon? Why not? It always amazes me how Jackie Chan can take something as simple as a thicket of trees and turn it into an entire action scene. The hill and mountain scenery in this movie is well captured. “Shangai Noon” is also comic throughout. For example, Chan as the Chinese Imperial guard in his purple robe gets dubbed by the native peoples as “Fights-In-A-Dress.” Owen Wilson as the outlaw sidekick also works out well: I didn’t buy into his nice rough guy character at first, but by the end of the show it came through. Some offenses for Christians: swearing, implied sex, drinking, smoking a peace pipe—not a movie for children. However, the overtones are mild and the moral backdrop is in fact honor and virtue. For a gentle and fun ride, I definitely recommend “Shanghai Noon” as an easy going western packed with stunts and comic relief. My Ratings: [3/4½]
—Todd Adams, age 32
Movie Critics
Jackie Chan’s unique film presence as a sort of slapstick martial arts hero has reached a new high…
—Cinemasense
…slightly objectionable rating for gratuitous violence, a number of obscenities and crude humor…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Those expecting the martial arts derring-do of a Romeo Must Die will be disappointed. Director Tom Dey… has positioned Shanghai Noon as a kinder, gentler film. …the fight scenes are shaded towards comedy, not testosterone-based action…
—James Berardinelli, ReelViews
…Chan, who does his own stunts, creates moments of physical comedy so pure, it’s no wonder he has been compared with Buster Keaton. If you see only one martial arts Western this year (and there is probably an excellent chance of that), this is the one…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…The violence is cartoon in nature, but it is abundant…
—Michael Elliott, Movie Parables
…Roy fantasizes about a romp with three prostitutes. Later, he and Wang visit a Nevada whore house where it is implied that they indulge their baser needs… Wang wakes up one morning to find that he has not only slept with an Indian woman, but that he has unknowingly married her…
—Steven Isaac, Plugged In, Focus on the Family
…moderate profanity, including at least 7 “s” words…
—ScreenIt