Despite being little more than a tribute to classic films (especially westerns and Buster Keaton movies), Shanghai Noon was quite the enjoyable action buddy film. Directed by Tom Fey, it starred Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson as the two leads with Lucy Liu as the princess and both Robert Yuan and Xander Berkley as the two antagonists. And it featured countless pop culture references for those that were paying attention.
The movie began with Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) leaving the Forbidden City of her own free will, only to find out that she was kidnapped when it was too late. Three of the most capable imperial guards were selected to go and retrieve her (along with Chan’s character who managed to convince the Emperor to let him go as a way to get rid of him). Meanwhile, Owen Wilson’s character was betrayed after a train robbery that went bad (in which Chan’s uncle was killed). This led to them both becoming outlaws and attracting the attention of a crooked Marshall (who was in lead with the bad guy).
Overall, I did enjoy this movie. I especially enjoyed some of the pop culture references (especially with both John Wayne and Wyatt Earp being referred to as terrible cowboy names). Not only that, but the scenes with the Native Americans were absolutely hilarious. Jackie Chan also showed off his ability with physical comedy. Likewise, the fight scenes were also well choreographed (though not even close to being the best he’s ever done). If anything the only thing I can say about this movie is that as good and as entertaining as it was, it can’t compare to some of his movies from China (such as Police Story or Little Big Soldier). Also, I don’t think this movie is really going to stand the test of time as well as some other recent comedies.
As a result, I can’t in all honesty give this movie four or five stars. I mean, it’s a good movie but I don’t feel it’s a great one. I give it three out of five stars.