Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson make a decent if somewhat anachronistic comedy duo in Shanghai Noon and its sequel Shanghai Knights. Filled with film content each of the comic actors is famous for, these movies show that their styles don’t always mesh amenably, but the tone of each film is light and goofy, and neither is a chore to sit through though the sequel is clearly the lesser of the two films. If each star has made better films, these often frantic fish-out-of-water comedies still go down pretty easily.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DD, Spanish 2.0 DD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 3 Hr. 44 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/07/2013
Shanghai Noon – 3/5
The Production Rating: 3/5
When Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) is kidnapped and transported from mainland China to Carson City, Nevada, in 1881, imperial guard Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) and three others are tasked to deliver the 100,000 gold piece ransom and bring her back home. While the Chinese delegation travels to Carson City on a train, an inept band of train robbers led by Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) manages to kill one of the Chinese guards and toss Wang and O’Bannon both overboard into the desert. Though they separate for a while, the two eventually find that they will get farther as a team, especially since each is being hunted by three factions: Roy’s old gang now led by psychotic Wallace (Walton Goggins), a territorial marshal Van Cleef (Xander Berkeley), and Chinese gangster Lo Fong (Roger Yuan) who is holding the princess and basically pulling all of the strings in the kidnapping plot.
The script by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough may be set in 1881, but much of the dialogue is spoken in modern vernacular lessening the impact of the fish out of water concept that the piece’s theme revolves around. Owen Wilson in particular never for one moment suggests someone living in the 19th century but rather a surfer dude transponded to the Old West in cowboy duds with dual six shooters strapped to his hips. Jackie Chan gets to combine his innocent comic persona with the fight maneuvering for which he’s famous and yet still be true to the film’s theme as he struggles to constantly do the right thing and make some sense of this strange country he finds himself in. As for the writers and director Tom Dey, they don’t miss any western motifs in plotting and picturing their scenario: from an Indian attack, a barroom brawl, bordellos, and communal baths to gunfights in the street and an extended fight-filled climax that runs a bit long even with each of the heroes having to deal with his nemesis: the corrupt marshal (beautifully acted by Xander Berkeley without going over the top) facing off with Wilson’s Roy and the venal Lo Fong (with Roger Yuan going toe-to-toe with Chan in their fight scenes). There’s even an unmistakable paean to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the two heroes charge out of their hiding place for a “final” shootout.
Shanghai Knights – 2.5/5
Six years after the events of the first film, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) and Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) find themselves reunited for an adventure in London. Chon learns that his father has been murdered and the Imperial Seal of China stolen by tenth in line for the British throne Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen) and his cohort, the bastard brother of the Chinese Emperor Wu Chow (Donnie Yen). Chon’s sister Lin (Fann Wong) who was present when her father was murdered has also made her way to London to seek revenge, but once there, the trio undercover a plot that both of the villains have hatched to attain ultimate power for themselves in their respective countries.
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have tossed in even more anachronisms for their sequel script (calling attractive women “hot,” the “thumb’s up” sign for OK, a paean to Singin’ in the Rain, “this country blows,” Kojak’s and Austin Powers’ “Who loves ya, baby?”) and have added a succession of real-life Victorian England personages to the story (though don’t go consulting any history books for fact checking) including Queen Victoria herself, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack the Ripper, and Charlie Chaplin to flesh out their overlong revenge and rescue saga (the film is easily a quarter hour too long; blame the unending fight scenes which sometimes seem to go on for days). Director David Dobkin picks right up where Tom Dey left off in the last film in terms of allowing Jackie Chan to do all the hard work and Owen Wilson to stand idly by adding a quip or jab here and there (once is fun but over and over becomes tiresome). There’s no denying the effectiveness of the climactic Gatling gun sequence amid the brilliant fireworks display or the duel in the bell tower of Big Ben (shades of The Great Mouse Detective), but as the continuity with the first film is a little sketchy (love interests from the earlier film have been discarded and the London setting is less fun than the Old West), the sequel does not measure up to the first film.
Fighting the Indians (Shanghai Noon)
British Thugs (Shanghai Knights)
Shanghai Noon – 4/5
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The film’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Color and sharpness both seem a trifle erratic through the 110-minute running time of the movie. While color is generally well saturated and under control, facial tones can sometimes run hot and be overly rosy. Sharpness is generally quite good though there are some problems with focus in close-ups in the early going. Black levels are generally excellent, and the overall look is clean and mostly appealing. The English subtitles when characters speak Chinese or an Indian dialect are in white and are easy to read. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
Shanghai Knights – 4.5/5
The film is once again framed in its theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is much more consistent this time out, and aside from some overly brownish color timing early on, the majority of the film looks splendid with deeply saturated color that is under better control than before and more natural flesh tones. Black levels are excellent once again with very good shadow detail. The white subtitles are easy to read, and the movie has been divided into 16 chapters.
Disney has not retrofitted either of the two films with new lossless audio tracks. Instead, with each movie we get high bit rate Dolby Digital 5.1 which at its best can be very enveloping with some excellent pans through the soundstage, some fine use of split surrounds during the action scenes, and a full use of the complete soundstage to accommodate Randy Edelman’s music scores in both movies, but at its worst the sound can sometimes be a bit brittle and less smoothly defined and open than a lossless encode. There is very effective use of the LFE channel. The dialogue is always understandable and has been placed in the center channel for both movies.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Shanghai Noon – 3/5
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Audio Commentary: Director Tom Dey and actor Owen Wilson comment on the film with periodic observations from Jackie Chan edited into the commentary.
Eight Deleted Scenes (SD): must be viewed individually. There is no “Play All” feature.
Seven Production Featurettes (SD): brief behind-the-scenes looks at the film’s production with primary contributions by director Tom Dey and actors Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson.
- Making an Eastern Western (3:23)
- Partners (4:09)
- Jackie’s Comedy (3:48)
- Western Stunts, Eastern Style (3:39)
- Hanging with Roy and the Kid (2:16)
- Action Overload (2:41)
- Choo Choo Boogie (3:09)
“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” Music Video (4:09, SD): performed by Uncle Kracker
Theatrical Trailer (1:18, SD)
Promo Trailers (HD): The Lone Ranger, The Muppet Movie, the stage version of The Lion King, the TV series Baby Daddy.
Shanghai Knights – 2.5/5
Two Audio Commentaries: Director David Dobkin has the first one to himself. Writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar enjoy their own handiwork very much in the second track. Neither is especially enlightening and gaps between comments grow in length as the film runs.
Eleven Deleted Scenes (SD): must be viewed individually. There is no “Play All” feature.
Fight Manual (9:03, SD) Jackie Chan and director David Dobkin discuss how to shoot and edit fight scenes and discuss the importance of choreography and tempo in fashioning fight scenes.
Action Overload (1:34, SD): a montage of the film’s action scenes with a player piano accompaniment.
Breezy, brainless action comedies featuring the team of Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson, Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights presents a double feature Blu-ray package with good to excellent video but lossy audio tracks reminiscent of the previous DVD double feature release.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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