Shanghai Noon

Stars: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu

Jackie Chan infiltrates America’s old West as an Imperial Guard out to rescue a kidnapped Chinese Princess. He’s matched with Owen Wilson as a bandit whose mouth is as big as his ego.

Lots of fun stuff here, particularly when Chan as Chon Wang – get it, sounds like John Wayne, stumbles into a Sioux camp and tries to communicate with them. English, Chinese, Sioux – it just doesn’t happen. There’s even a trick horse that likes to drink from a bottle and sit down on his rear end. As far as the fight scenes go, they are not Chan’s best, mainly because his prowess is obscured by the camera work. Wilson bandit Roy O’Bannon is an odd mix of cool dude and the character he played in “The Haunting”, a very flip kind of guy. Opposite Chan’s character with a serious mission, it works, though.

Princess Pei Pei (Ally McBeal’s Lucy Liu) runs away to America with her tutor. Upon arrival, she discovers that she is now the prisoner of a disgraced former Imperial Guard named Lo Fong (Roger Yuan), who runs a brutal labor camp for lowly Chinese men and women.

Chon Wang is among a foursome of Imperial Guards who are sent by the Emperor to bring the Princess home. When the train they’re on is robbed by a group of bandits, Chon’s uncle is murdered but not by leader Roy O’Bannon. During his trek to Carson City, Nevado where he believes the Princess is, Chon rescues a young Sioux boy and ends up marrying the Chief’s daughter. They don’t take “no” for an answer. Then, after a long set up, Chon joins forces with O’Bannon to rescue the Princess and find the ransom gold that the other guards were carrying on the train. Following behind and appearing at the last moment, like when the two men are about to be hanged, is Chon’s Indian wife. Where she goes in between the other action is anyone’s guess.

Lotta says “Shanghai Noon” is lightweight, cute, fun stuff.