Reviewed by: Nick Graham
|Featuring||Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Owen Wilson, Curtis Armstrong, Sammo Hung|
|Producer||Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman|
“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”).
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.