This file was generated 2002-10-20 18:07 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-04-02.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> March 2001 >> Shanghai Noon
I had the strangest experience while watching Shanghai Noon. I was watching a Jackie Chan movie and wishing they'd do less fighting and more talking. I can assure you I have never had this thought cross my mind during a Jackie Chan movie, where I'm more frequently wishing they'd shut up and start punching. Shanghai Noon is surprisingly funny between the fights, but not nearly so funny during. This is in stark contrast to movies like Rumble in the Bronx and Drunken Master. Most Jackie Chan movies are funny while he's fighting because he makes clever use of the materials around him. This movie falls short on that count most of the time, but provides connecting material better than anything else of his that I've seen.
Owen Wilson's Roy O'Bannon is so engaging that he manages to overshadow the movie's cleverest martial arts tricks. His reaction shots during an early fight scene were more entertaining than most of the details of the fight itself. Wilson does an excellent job as the smoothest talker for many a mile, and every word from his mouth is a treat. He is almost too good of a foil for an action star like Chan, stealing scenes with aplomb. I still think Chris Tucker could do this kind of thing, but Rush Hour didn't have the script for it. Ironically, the other scene stealer in Shanghai Noon is the character who says the least, played by Brandon Merrill. She does more with a few significant looks than most characters could say with paragraphs of dialogue. She's also a real-life rodeo champion, so I'm disappointed that they didn't try harder to include this in more stunt sequences.
Chan fans are accustomed to ludicrous plots to provide semi-boring connections between the action sequences. Although Shanghai Noon provides significantly more entertainment value between the fighting, the contrivances in the story are just as bad. When the rest of the movie is so good, these parts stick out like sore thumbs. I could spend a while nitpicking things like Chon's improbable mastery of English and the final arrangement of the romantic couples, but I can't deny how much I enjoyed everything around them.