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Shanghai Noon
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Length:1h 50mins
Cast:Tom Dey, Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu

Jackie Chan (Rumble in the Bronx, Rush Hour) scores his third American hit in Shanghai Noon, a comedic western that provides the escapist pleasures of an old Saturday matinee. Jackie plays a palace guard who travels from the Forbidden City to the Old West to help rescue the Emperor of China's kidnapped daughter (Ally McBeal's Lucy Liu). Once in the States, he forms an uneasy allegiance with an off-the-wall outlaw, Owen Wilson (Bottle Rocket), and together they spend the rest of the movie trying to elude Xander Berkeley's extravagantly evil sheriff. Berkely's character is named Lee VanCleef in a nod to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that is only one of the film's many postmodern jokes. Of course, there are plenty of dazzling fight scenes in which Chan -- middle-aged now but still astonishingly agile -- performs the gravity-defying stunts for which he is justly famous. And the film looks great, with its backdrop of stirring vistas that recall the classic westerns. The real charm of Shanghai Noon, though, lies in the rapport between Chan, always a delightful comedian, and costar Wilson, whose anachronistic California slacker persona is offbeat and genuinely funny. Refreshing in its absence of high-tech weaponry, Shanghai Noon seems oddly innocent in comparison to most contemporary action films -- and a whole lot more fun. Kryssa Schemmerling

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