Directed by Tom Dey.
Written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.
Starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson and Lucy Liu.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 5/27/00
Before we talk about today's movie, I'd like
to discuss a more important topic at hand:
Did you see the picture of her in the Sunday
edition of Parade Magazine? Good Lord! The woman looks like she is
doing heroin on weekends and chasing that with two bottles of Jim
Beam...after every meal! I didn't even want to read the article
about her, because although I'm sure it was to talk about her
upcoming movies or her past successes, the real story was right in
front of me on the cover: the woman's stylist needs to be fired
(along with the hairdresser for Mena Suvari, who somehow made Suvari--star
of "American Pie" and "American Beauty"--look like a fucked-up dog
at the Oscars last month).
Anyway, the movie. Being that it is a rainy
Memorial Day weekend Saturday here in DC, movies were in order. Who
better to call than Monica "Anime" Cappiello, world-renowned artiste
and a Bellview favorite for her movie prowess. Monica, her
out-of-town friend Bridgette and I went to catch "Shanghai Noon" at
a theater out in Centreville. When I first saw the preview for this
film, I was 99% sure that I was never going to see this movie, even
if offered to me for free...but, after dissing the preview for
"Galaxy Quest" and then finding that it was a really funny movie, I
decided to never say never and bite on this new Jackie Chan film.
If you have seen any Jackie Chan movies
before--the ones released or fully produced in the US include
"Rumble in the Bronx," "Supercop," "Twin Dragons" and "Rush
Hour"--you know basically that all of his films are action-comedies,
with more stress on the laughs (at least, in theory) than on the
action. "Shanghai Noon" is no different. Jackie is playing an
imperial guard in 1880s China that must travel to America to
retrieve a princess (Lucy Liu) that has been kidnapped by a renegade
guardsman and held hostage with other Chinese slaves in Carson City,
Nevada. When Jackie's team of rescuers is separated during a train
robbery, he must set off on his own to find the princess with the
help of an infamous bandit named Roy (Owen Wilson) who knows the
ways of the west a bit better than the Chinaman. Standard issue
partnership ensues, and Chan's trademark martial arts mayhem
accompanies the duo.
The biggest thing that kept me from wanting
to see this movie in the previews was the presence of Owen Wilson.
You just cannot tell me that the biggest name the studio could
rustle up for a white-guy partner in a Jackie Chan movie is Owen
Wilson!! After the success of "Rush Hour"--which made over $100
million alone, more than all of Jackie's other US releases
COMBINED--you would think that they could sign up somebody famous.
But, this is why I do not currently work in the movies!! As it is,
Wilson is actually pretty good, and his good ol' boy cowboy-speak
works well with Jackie in this movie, and most importantly...their
chemistry is actually pretty good. It doesn't hurt that he has some
great lines, and his timing is damned good in this movie.
Unfortunately for the studio that produced the film, I don't think
having the name Owen Wilson on the marquee will help sell more
tickets than "Chris Tucker" did.
And, speaking of great lines, I can't think
of the last time so many extras got so many great things to say. In
particular, the Indian tribe that Jackie's character lives with
during the first portion of the film was fucking hilarious. So were
the settlers that kept referring to other Chinamen in the film as
Jews (I thought it was funny, but one guy took himself and his kid
out of the theater after that joke), crack references to Texans made
by Roy's gang, and other racial remarks on the behalf of whites,
Indians and Chinamen.
Plus, the action--while not top-notch by
Chan's standards--is entertaining and there are a couple of cool
moves that Chan puts on the bad guys. But Jackie is, I believe, 44
years old now, and one wonders during this movie how many more of
these he can do before settling into courtroom drama movies or
mental ward patient comedies. There are clearly stuntmen used in a
few scenes that require some serious derring-do; if you watch some
of Chan's older movies, he is the stuntman in every scene. After
watching Tom Cruise do most of his own work in
"M:I-2," you will
feel a bit sorry for Chan, the man that really pioneered the idea of
doing all of your own stunts.
But, laughs and action aside, the plot for
this movie is pretty weak, and Monica, Bridgette and I all agreed
afterwards that the last half-hour takes way too long to complete.
(I can not honestly remember the last ending that really satisfied
me besides the ending for "The Usual Suspects." Quite possibly the
best ending for a movie ever.) Kid Rock's song "Cowboy"—while a
fine song in its own right--gets played in parts three times during
this movie, and I know there have been other songs made about
cowboys and the west; I know the song is a piece of shit, but why
not use "Wild Wild West" from the mid-80s? And, is this a kids
movie? I didn't think so—judging from the sheer number of
"Deuce Bigalow"-style toilet humor cracks made by Wilson's character--but,
I think a third of my audience played on the 10-and-under soccer
teams for the leagues in Centreville. I think some parents were
clearly disturbed by the number of shits and sonofabitches that were
laced together in this movie.
Middle of the road for me (rental for Monica
and Bridgette), but Jackie has done and can do much better than he
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard