Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


Chinese Imperial Guard Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) leaves the Forbidden City in a quest to rescue the beautiful Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu), who has been kidnapped and taken to America. With the help of a partner he doesn't trust (Owen Wilson), a wife he didn't expect (Brandon Merrill), a horse with personality and misadventures at every turn, Chon's intention to save the Princess becomes a comedy of errors as he faces the meanest gunslingers in the West.

"There's Kung Fu and there's Jackie Chan's version: Fun Fu. The latter is a precision tool for martial arts action fused with a humour that comes from his own persona. That's called star material, and if Shanghai Noon is anything, it's a star vehicle for Chan. It certainly isn't taking itself seriously, with the ham title a jokey homage to that classic Gary Cooper Western, High Noon. It is also part of a running gag through the film relying on classic Western names - but they're better fresh, so I won't spoilt that for you. From the film's opening shot behind closed doors in the Forbidden City, to the final shot of two cowboys riding off into the sunset, Shanghai Noon offers escapist entertainment in an accomplished package of widescreen panoramas, close up characterisations and wide shot action scenes, held together by a clear story and a solid structure. The ethnic mix of Chinese, Indians and the occasional white trash - principally bad guys with the exception of liar and thief Roy O'Bannon, played with laid back charm by Owen Wilson - is especially welcome with the use of some humorous subtitles. The script is clever in maintaining a sense of reality, which director Tom Dey serves up in the form of credible tension in fine balance with the horsing around. Speaking of horse play, the film makes the best comic use of a horse since Mr Ed. Impressive production design - especially fine work on the interiors of the bars and saloons - and a great big score to match the action, make this a satisfying and often exciting film."
Andrew L. Urban

"Yee hah! Shanghai Noon is a wonderful mix of cultures, genres and humour that will have you beaming like a halloween pumpkin. A splendid rollicking action packed adventure set in the wild old wild west that has just about everything, it's a delicious melting pot of bubbling surprises. This buddy movie cum road movie is an impressive debut for director Tom Dey, whose approach to comedy is filled with drama. Jackie Chan uses all his considerable skills from high-kick karate to outrageous side-splitting comedy and shares the applause with Owen Wilson, who puts attitude into his laid-back self-obsessed outlaw. Together they form the oddest duo imaginable; think a Chinese Buster Keaton with martial arts skills and a laid-back Sundance Kid with the vanity of Barbra Streisand. The script is faster than the bullet train and the jokes are multi-cultural, slapstick, farce and total screwball. The sum of all the parts makes Shanghai Noon funnier as it goes along. High energy and never running out of ideas, the action is breathtakingly imaginative weapons and tools include rope and horseshoe, mounted antlers, urine soaked shirt and tree branches to name but a few. There are many highlights, but for me the Chinese Drinking Game when our two quirky (drunk) heroes chant an unrepeatable ridiculous chinese ditty while blowing bubbles, in the bath, is the funniest thing I've seen in a very long time. There's ornate cultural madness, a bungling outlaw novice, red indian tomfoolery, a bar room brawl and a gob-stopping horse that amongst other things, drinks a bottle of scotch! Lucy Liu is under-used, but is able to toss in a few high karate kicks and has presence. Never taking itself seriously, there's plenty of fun poked at the western genre, and even the fabulous score has humorous derivative touches. It looks splendid and the production design and costumes are a treat. Don't rush wait for the out-takes they're gems. Don't miss this one - Shanghai Noon is clever escapism at its funniest and wackiest best."
Louise Keller

Visit the SHANGHAI NOON Official Site for action clips, outtakes, exclusive interviews, progressive storyboards and you can test your stunt moves in the Shanghai Express Game. Pretend to be Jackie Chan as he jumps across the carriages of a train, dodging bullets, fighting outlaws and ducking bridges.

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

Jenny Cooney Carrillo talks to


CAST: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu, Roger Yuan, Walton Giggins, Xander Berkeley, Jason Connery, Brandon Merrill, Rafael Baez


PRODUCER: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman

SCRIPT: Alfred Gough & Miles Millar


EDITOR: Richard Chew A.C.E.

MUSIC: Randy Edelman


RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International



VIDEO RELEASE [Rental]: January 8, 2001
[Sell-Thru]: July 24, 2002

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020