Dir: Tom Dey. US. 2000. 110 mins.
Prod cos: Touchstone Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment. US dist: Buena Vista. Int'l dist (major territories excl Germany, Japan): Buena Vista Intl. Other intl sales: Spyglass Entertainment. Prods: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman. Exec prods: Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Solon So. Scr: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar. DoP: Dan Mindel. Prod des: Peter J Hampton. Ed: Richard Chew. Music: Randy Edelman. Main cast: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu.
Jackie Chan's first American film since his US breakthrough in Rush Hour is a comedy western that's part Blazing Saddles and part Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid - with, of course, a sizeable dose of Chan's humour-spiked martial arts thrown in. The comedy is mostly undemanding but often very funny; funny enough, probably, to make Shanghai Noon a solid summer crowd-pleaser in the US and a strong performer in international and ancillary markets.
As in Rush Hour, Chan is wisely teamed with a fresh American talent who should help pull in younger audiences. Playing Roy O'Bannon, an aspiring outlaw who walks the walk but doesn't always get the money, Owen Wilson (Armageddon, Bottle Rocket) makes a tremendously appealing foil for Chan, offering a dry comic edge and a shaggy sex appeal. Chan plays Chon Wang (a name giving rise to one of the script's funniest self-referential gags), an imperial guard in China's Forbidden City who is dispatched to the Wild West in search of a kidnapped princess (Liu, from TV's Ally McBeal). Rivals at first, Roy and Chon eventually team up to rescue the princess.
The script gets some big laughs out of Chon's fish-out-of-water status and director Dey does a deft job mixing Chan's action and physical comedy scenes with Wilson's more understated moments.