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Sat., May 27, 2000

Review for Shanghai Noon

If you're looking for a good western with a great plot and awesome action sequences, look no farther than the new Jackie Chan film Shanghai Noon. This new release from Touchstone Pictures is a great kick in the pants for any Jackie Chan fan. Rush Hour, Jackie's last film with Chris Tucker, helped Jackie gain a faithful American audience dedicated to a greater quality of films compared to his old pre-American releases. Now he does it again with help from Owen Wilson.

The movie starts off with Chan in the Forbidden City in 1881. He plays Chon Wang, an Imperial Guard that has a crush on the Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu). Wang discovers the Princess departing to America to escape the obligation of marrying a teenage royal slob. The Imperial royalty find a faux ransom note that indicates to bring 100,000 gold pieces to Carson City, Nevada if they wish to get the princess back. After assembling three of the best Imperial Guards to accompany Wang's uncle to America to retrieve the princess, Wang is able to convince his uncle to take him along.

After arriving in America, a botched train robbery, on which the royal brigade is traveling, effects the uncle's death, and Wang goes after Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), the leader of the gang robbers. Roy himself is double crossed by his own gang members, and ends up buried up to his head in the middle of the desert. Wang shows up just as a buzzard is beginning to pick away at Roy's head, and provides him with the means to dig himself out (2 chopsticks). In turn, Roy tells Wang how to get to Carson City (which ends up being wrong directions).

On the way, Wang stumbles upon a conflict between a young Sioux and Crow Indian warriors. After rescuing the Sioux teen, Wang is taken among the Sioux and ends up with an Indian wife, who then follows him to town and helps him intermittently along the way. Once back in town, Wang finds O'Bannon in a saloon, and after roughing up the locals, Roy and Wang are taken to prison. After breaking out, Roy discovers about the gold and the Princess and Wang's mission. They run across a crazed marshall, the Princess' kidnapper, and the three Imperial Guards, where much action and fighting ensues.

Shanghai Noon amazingly improves upon Rush Hour with the comedic and action elements. It definitely builds upon Chan's many martial arts talents, with more action scenes and more impressive situations. Notably are the fights with the Crow Indians and between Chan and one of the Marshall's stooges, where Chan demonstrates his deftness with a horseshoe tied to the end of a rope. The laughs are much more genuine in this film, especially from the gentle-hearted Owen Wilson. The acting is great and very appropriate for the nature of the characters, and the plot ends with a very satisfying finish for all the players.

Shanghai Noon will definitely show how much of a fan base Chan has, but those who do find themselves in the theater will surely be in for more than they expected. Owen Wilson will also benefit from his performance in this film, which will undoubtedly open up more doors of opportunity for him. Moreover, it demonstrates Chan's ability to act in a martial arts capacity as a new action hero for the millenium. This is a must see for all audiences who are looking for a great summer movie ride.

Final Note: the action sequences in this film are far better than the ones in Mission: Impossible II. So seeing this film will be a better decision than seeing Ethan Hunt try to be the next Terminator.

-Carl Sticht

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