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Overall Rating: 4/5
Director: Tom Dey
Tagline: Jackie Chan kicks the crap out of the Old West.
The Film: Shanghai Noon deserves bonus points just for the clever title. After that, it’ll all come down to tastes. Jackie Chan provides great fight scenes and the broad physical comedy — and goodhearted mugging — for which he’s famous. Lifting a Chinese soldier out of the late 1800s and dropping
him in the Old West is a clever idea — no surprise the script was written
by Miles Miller and Al Gough, the creators of the brilliant/underrated Smallville TV series.
And hey, Lucy Liu. But the anachronism of Owen Wilson as a sensitive, ironic cowboy bandit in a very modern tone risks derailing the film for anyone who needs to pretend this really is a plausible Wild West story. Taken as a romp, a nudge and wink at the Old West of Hollywood rather than of Tombstone and Dodge City, the film works. And Jackie Chan in a well-written, well-directed film is a joyful and increasingly rare treat.
DVD: Nice sound and picture, with some good bonus material. The documentary footage, which discusses stunts, comedy styles and other aspects of the film, is divided into easily digestible five-minute chunks. When this type of thing is slapped into one 40-minute featurette, you watch it once, if that, and never again. Much better this way.
There’s no goofy outtakes, a Chan staple, other than what ran with the feature’s closing credits. A lame music video and a trivia game that tests your memory of the film after watching it round out the features. It’s a good mix. When the film is fun, not a Defining Moment in Cinema, you want the DVD to offer a little depth, a little fun, rather than a seminar on the filmic arts.
Easter Eggs: Two. Complete the game to join Roy’s gang, and you get a test sequence involving models used for a train crash. Beat the quiz to join the Chinese royal guard and see Chan’s drinking sequence with English subtitles.
Maverick — Mel Gibson, James Garner, Jodi Foster. Another fun tale of Old West hijinks
The Royal Tenenbaums — Owen Wilson co-wrote this, and joins an ensemble cast headed by Gene Hackman, for a funny, quirky film.
Rush Hour — Jackie Chan as a good guy who falls into a mismatched
partnership with a wild American who helps save the day. It’s Shanghai Noon without the chaps.
Lethal Weapon 4 — Mel Gibson and Danny Glover provide the buddy
banter, Jet Li provides the martial arts.
Iron Monkey — Always a great choice: Fantastic martial arts, easygoing comedy, charming actors.