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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 3/15/02



Shanghai Noon
2000 (2000) - Touchstone (Buena Vista)

review by Brian Ford Sullivan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Shanghai Noon Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/B+

Specs and Features

110 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ????), audio commentary (with director Tom Dey and actors Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson), 3 featurettes (Making an Eastern Western, The Shanghai Kid and Western Stunts, Eastern Style), Action Overboard stunt montage, 7 deleted scenes with optional commentary, still gallery, Uncle Cracker (featuring Kid Rock) music video, Shanghai Surprise mini-games, cast and crew biographies, theatrical trailers, animated film-themed menus with music, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned


Just when you wonder what variation of buddy comedy has yet to be done, along comes Shanghai Noon to give you a brand spanking new perspective on the genre. This time around, the buddies are a Chinese Imperial Guard (the always fun Jackie Chan) and a clueless outlaw (the equally fun Owen Wilson) in an action/comedy western - not the likeliest of pairings for sure. Truth be told, Shanghai Noon is more of a fish out of water vehicle than a buddy comedy, as the film gets a lot of mileage out of Chan's character reacting to Western culture. The most annoying example of this is his character's name - Chon Wang - which, when said fast enough, results in the made for TV-commercial line of "Chon Wang? What kind of cowboy name is that?" Putting such easy targets aside, you still have a surprisingly funny and entertaining film, particularly with the unlikely chemistry between Wilson and Chan.

Chon Wang is a somewhat hapless but good-hearted Imperial Guard, who takes it upon himself to travel to Nevada when his princess (Lucy Liu) is kidnapped. Eventually, he meets up with the equally hapless but good-hearted outlaw Roy O'Bannon (Wilson), and the two set out begrudgingly to save the princess after backstabbing each other for a while first. Along the way, there's a lot of ass kicking to be had (including some really astounding work by Chan). But the most fun is between Wilson and Chan, who are both annoyed and endeared with each other. One sequence, featuring the two playing a Chinese drinking game, is particularly fall-out-of-your-chair funny, as it's clear that screenwriters Miles Millar and Alfred Gough (who currently head up the WB's fine new series Smallville) and director Tom Dey know when to just sit back and let the actors carry the flick.

And did I mention the music? Shanghai Noon has one of the most out of place (for a western but for some reason perfectly chosen) soundtracks I've seen in a while. Everything from Aerosmith to Kid Rock is represented here, and they definitely add to the "kick some ass and have some laughs" feel the movie beams from the start. No doubt when I got this disk home, cranking up the sound was definitely priority.

As a DVD, it delivers - both the video and audio quality are very good. Forgoing a 2.0 Dolby Digital option, it's obvious plenty of effort has been given to the sole 5.1 audio option. It's definitely one of those "crank up and annoy the neighbors" soundtracks... and you won't be disappointed when you do. The bass is well used in the mix, without making you feel like you're in a Jerry Bruckheimer film. The video is just good. The print and transfer are absolutely flawless. There's no grain or scratches to be found here anywhere. Colors are well rendered and blacks deep and steady. This is simply what Touchstone/Disney should shoot for in all their releases.

As far as extras go, there's quite a lot of fun to be had here, starting with a screen-specific audio commentary with Owen Wilson and director Tom Dey. Jackie Chan is also included, however only as interview segments edited into the commentary. It's still pretty seamless, but it's obvious that Dey is running the show with Wilson and the inserted Chan dropping in every so often. You won't find any golden nuggets about the production here - this track is very by the numbers. Also included are seven deleted scenes - all in rough form - that run a little over ten minutes. Dey and Wilson will offer up reasons for their deletion should you choose the commentary option on these. The next big section is a set of featurettes - Making an Eastern Western, The Shanghai Kid, Western Stunts, Eastern Style and Action Overboard - that run about a half an hour in all. Surprisingly, these aren't the run of the mill HBO First Look-style featurettes you'd expect on a DVD like this. They're fairly informative considering their length. Rounding out the disk are a music video by Uncle Cracker, some production stills, the film's theatrical trailer and two mini-games.

If you check your brain at the door and just want to have some fun, Shanghai Noon delivers. And the DVD supports that with great video and audio and a host of extra goodies. It's a nice overall experience.

Brian Ford Sullivan
bfsullivan@thedigitalbits.com




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