Clearly made with a love of the western and the martial arts movie Shanghai Noon gets off to a great start simply by casting Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu. Jackie Chan is a veteran martial arts/comedy actor in the Hong Kong tradition and Lucy Liu is great eye candy. Throw in the near flawless comic timing of Owen Wilson and a yarn as tall as the west was wild and you have the makings of a hilarious movie. Shanghai Noon does not fail to entertain and deliver hilarious sight gags, great plays on words and perfect setups.
Owen Wilson play Roy O'Bannon, Jackie Chan plays Chon Wang (pronounced John Wayne) A.K.A. The Shanghai Kid and Lucy Liu plays the humourless Princess Pei Pei. The story is basically this: Princess Pei Pei is lured away from the Forbidden City in the belief that she can start a new life in America but is really being kidnapped for ransom by a former Imperial Guard and his minions. The Emperor in a bid to get back the princess orders his three bravest guards and an Imperial secretary to deliver the ransom to the kidnappers. Chon Wang who is secretly in love with the princess volunteers to go on this hazardous duty and is permitted to in part because the Imperial secretary is his uncle.
Roy O'Bannon is an erstwhile train robber who gives new meaning to the word incompetent. Naturally enough he just happens to be robbing the same train that the Imperial delegation is on with a rookie in his ranks who just happens to shoot Chon Wang's uncle. The death of a relative is a classic device in both martial arts movies and westerns. Roy is not a bad person he is simply incompetent and at the heart of the matter a nice guy which works to his advantage in the long run.
There are a ton of great bits in this movie from the fight sequence with the Crow Indians, the peace pipe bit, and a host of others but two really stand out. The gunfight between Roy O'Bannon and Marshall Nathan Van Cleef stands out for two reasons. First is the name of the Marshall which has to be a tip of the hat to the late western great Lee Van Cleef who also played a ninja master on a television show called The Master. Second is the whole spoof of the western duel as Roy O'Bannon goes through his preparation routine to get ready for the duel. Any fan of westerns will appreciate the humour of this bit.
The second real standout bit in what is a great movie from start to finish is the Chinese drinking song bit where Roy and Chon get drunk while in a Cathouse bathing room and play a drinking game. There is no way to describe this - it just has to be seen.
The extras on this DVD are nothing special a couple of games and the now standard commentary and deleted scenes are nothing to write home about, but this movie doesn't really need them. This is a great comedy movie which deserves to be part of any comedy fans DVD collection.