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

shanghainoon2000a

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.

shanghainoon2000b

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.

shanghainoon2000c

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

Taken (2008)

taken2008a

Director: Pierre Morel

Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy, Xander Berkeley, Olivier Rabourdin, Gerard Watkins, Famke Janssen

Screenplay: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

93 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language.

 

There was a time, not too long ago, when Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, A Walk Among the Tombstones) was not thought of as an action star. Think about that. Think about it.

T-4

Bryan Mills (Neeson) is a retired CIA agent who spends his time in solitude while trying to build a relationship with daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, Lockout, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2). When Kim wants to go to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy, TV’s Arrow, Monte Carlo), Bryan’s ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, TV’s Hemlock Grove, X-Men) is fine with it, but Bryan has his reservations. When his fears become true and Kim and Amanda are kidnapped in Paris, Bryan’s old CIA skills rise up and take over as he heads to France to find his daughter and get her back…and get revenge on those who took them.

Taken was a bit of a surprise for me. While I liked Liam Neeson from his work in Batman Begins and Schindler’s List, I never thought much on the one-man army concept working for him. I was wrong, and am happy for it. This is a nonstop thrill ride of immense proportions. Neeson kills it as Mills, and director Pierre Morel (From Paris with Love, District B13) keeps the film rollicking along. It isn’t perfect, but it is one of the better films to be dumped during the dry season for action films.

There isn’t anything truly special about the cinematography or the editing, the music is pretty nice but nothing amazing, and the direction isn’t going to win any major awards, but the film is still a fun time carried by a veteran performer and his ability to win fans over.

taken2008c

Taken is pretty great, but not entirely well-made. See it for Neeson. See it. For Neeson. Yeah.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑