[Happy 15th Birthday!] Shanghai Noon (2000)

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Director: Tom Dey

Cast: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu, Xander Berkeley, Walton Goggins

Screenplay: Miles Millar, Alfred Gough

110 mins. Rated PG-13 for action violence, some drug humor, language and sensuality.

 

Today, let’s look back on Shanghai Noon, a marginally forgotten action/comedy/western from 2000. I just learned that plans are being put in place to bring Shanghai Dawn, a new installment, to cinemas in the near-future. Is it worth it? Does it hold up? Let’s find out.

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Chon Wang (Jackie Chan, Rush Hour, Kung Fu Panda 2) is in the American West in search of the missing Chinese Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu, TV’s Elementary, Kill Bill Vol. 1). There is one problem: he keeps running into the infamous and underwhelming outlaw Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb) who has been left to die by his newest recruit Wallace (Walton Goggins, TV’s Justified, Django Unchained), an unhinged fool of a man. After a forced friendship is built, Chon and Roy team up to save the princess while they evade Marshal Nathan Van Cleef (Xander Berkeley, TV’s Salem, Terminator 2: Judgment Day), who is hunting O’Bannon and “The Shanghai Kid”.

Shanghai Noon is a fun little excursion that with several flaws but a likable comedic duo. The chemistry between Chan and Wilson is pretty solid, even if the conceit that brings them together has no reason. I don’t believe that an outlaw like Roy O’Bannon would just decide to help out Chon without getting anything back. I just wasn’t convinced by his motives here, especially hearing how quickly he would sell Chan’s character out. Once they do become partners, though, that doesn’t really matter. They are a likable team nonetheless.

The villains are less than strong, however. Both villains are extremely predictable, unmotivated, and unconvincing, in no part due to the performances, though, but how they are written.

Director Tom Dey (Failure to Launch, Marmaduke) gets this film tonally right in a lot of ways, and I can’t fault him for the uninspired style, as he hasn’t really proven to be above par as a filmmaker. Shanghai Noon also runs a bit too long, especially near the end. There are sequences involving the attempts at rescuing Pei Pei that feel like they aren’t going anywhere. That being said, the choice to add classic rock music to the score really helps keep the lighthearted tone moving.

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Shanghai Noon is far from perfect, but western action/comedies are not an easy thing to do. As it stands, the chemistry from the strong two leads carry this film very well, and it’s easy to overlook some of the film’s more blaring faults.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

31 Days of Horror: Day 20 – Children of the Corn (1984)

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Director: Fritz Kiersch

Cast: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, John Franklin, Courtney Gains

Screenplay: George Goldsmith

92 mins. Rated R.

 

I love Stephen King. I do. He has been one of the few authors in my lifetime that have inspired me to do what I do. I am currently reading his entire library of work chronologically, and I just find his writing fascinating. I was a big fan of the short story Children of the Corn from his collection Night Shift. It was terrifying at the core. The story, about a bunch of children in the town of Gatlin who turn on their parents and slaughter the adults of the town before forming their own society to serve the mythical deity He Who Walks Behind the Rows, is just so eerie and yet told in such a way that it becomes believable, which in turn makes it more horrifying. The film version is an inverse. It tells the story in such a way that it becomes wholly unrealistic and sometimes laughable.

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It stars Peter Horton (TV’s thirtysomething, The Baby-Sitters Club) as Burt and Linda Hamilton (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Dante’s Peak) as his wife Vicky. Of the children performing, the only two who warrant any such fear are Isaac (John Franklin, The Addams Family, Python) and his servant Malachai (Courtney Gains, Back to the Future, Faster).

Horton’s portrayal of Burt is totally fallable and silly. He comes across as not even believing himself when he reads lines. Hamilton as well is given next to nothing in terms of character arc (her entire character stripped down to being Daphne in any episode of Scooby-Doo). The children cannot control their scenes and the film ultimately falls apart before any supernatural elements, like a rotoscoped demonic shade deity, enter the field. It is no wonder that director Fritz Kiersch and screenwriter George Goldsmith have gotten nothing back from Hollywood, but that’s what you get when you completely throw out the original script from the source material’s creator.

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It is disappointing to see such terrific source material mangled in such a way, but the film is just not all that good. Well, I guess when compared to the sequels…Oscar anyone?

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

Endless Love (2014)

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Director: Shana Feste

Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick

Screenplay: Shana Feste, Joshua Safran

104 mins. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying.

 

The Academy needs to create an award for Most Clichés Fired Off in a Single Film. If they do, I would be able to see the filmmakers behind this year’s Endless Love, a bad movie, would have a chance of winning awards this upcoming season. This is a bad movie. It is a remake of a 1981 film and also an adaptation of a novel of the same name. This film deserves the lowest possible score based on the fact that they tried to deploy the Token Black Man. When I saw that, I shockingly gasped. I digress, though…there is a plot in there somewhere.

Endless Love tells the story of Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde, last year’s Carrie, The Three Musketeers), a privileged youth ready to jump-start her life, and her romantic entanglement with David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer, I am Number Four, The Butler), a mechanic’s son and all-around sexy man. Jade’s mother (Joely Richardson, The Patriot, Vampire Academy) loves her daughter’s new infatuation, but her father (Bruce Greenwood, Star Trek, Flight) sees something different in David, something not great. David’s father (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Identity Thief) is the rock to David, the man who inspires him to always be striving for better, and David tries to show Jade’s family what he is really capable of. Now, enjoy a game with me. Remove all these character names and actor information. Then, pick another generic romance film and fill in the blanks. Now, does the plot still sync up? Of course it does!

There is virtually nothing enjoyable about this film except for the drinking game I started working on while watching it. That, and the performance by Bruce Greenwood, which isn’t too bad, but I feel when I watch scenes with him that he is acting to a cardboard cutout of other attractive people. Maybe he actually is.

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So, don’t see this movie without booze. Do you have a great drinking game for something this terrible? Have you seen Shana Feste’s Endless Love? What do you think?

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe


Endless Love (2014) on IMDb

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