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Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights Blu-ray

Dick De Jong
May 16, 2013
HDTV Solutions

Shanghai Noon, starring the genial Jackie Chan and the affable Owen Wilson, combines a buddy flick with a road movie.

Think Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in a less lethal Lethal Weapon.

Or since Shanghai Noon borrows so irreverently from it, imagine a more light-hearted Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, just replace the gun play with kung fu fighting.

Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights Blu-ray

And since Jackie is a Chinese Imperial guard traveling to the 1880's Wild West full of cowboys and Indians, you can add classic, Beverly Hills Cop "fish out of water" to that description.

The sequel, Shanghai Knights transports our fun-loving, pillow-fighting heroes to London where they team up with a Scotland Yard detective dubbed Artie and a street urchin called Charlie to thwart a plot to kill the royal family. Imagine two odd ducks paddling in a Victorian England pond.

Actually, the plots, though amusing, are simply a backdrop for the more conning than cunning, wise-cracking, Roy O'Bannon (Wilson) to banter with his power punching partner, Chon Wang (Chan), as they save the day and the dames.

If you are a film buff, you will have a field day as you spot visual and verbal allusions in these two movies, starting with the Shanghai Noon title paying homage to the classic Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly western, High Noon. For bonus points, Lee Van Cleef was a co-star and Van Cleef is the name of the villain in Shanghai Noon.

I will not even attempt to describe the selection of songs - Roger Miller warbling "England swings like a pendulum do." With Shanghai Knights set in London, maybe I can give it a pass along with "Winchester Cathedral," but The Who's "Magic Bus." What more can I say?

This double feature presents Shanghai Noon (released in 2000) and Shanghai Knights (2003) for the first time in high definition and the digitally restored prints look worthy of a Blu-ray pressing.

Bonus Features

The Bonus Features for both films are fairly standard fare. Though occasionally, they can be revealing.

For example in the audio commentary by writers, Miles Millar and Alfred Gough (Spiderman 2 and Smallville, the TV series) confessed that they underused the wonderful Lucy Lui, who was the feisty, headstrong Princess Pei Pei in Shanghai Noon.

I couldn't agree more and they didn't write any more substantial part for the winsome, lithesome Fann Wong in Shanghai Knights.

Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights Blu-ray

Though I don't totally blame them because Jackie Chan and his acrobatic antics are the foci of both films. All the rest - whether it's Wilson, Lui, Wong or a sitting horse - are foils for Chan's balletic parry and riposte.

If you take Chan (who was in his mid-40's when making these films) and his skill for granted, watch the outtakes at the end of the film to catch a glimpse of the training and commitment necessary to perform these stunts.

Better yet, study the "Fight Manual" documentary to discover how much time, planning and effort was required to construct the non-stop action sequences.

The description of Chan's job as Choreographer is apropos since his martial arts maneuvers are much more fluid dance than violent mayhem. It's a treat to revel in his charming creativity.

That fancy footwork is in full force with the Singing in the Rain number with Chan, à la Gene Kelly, umbrella in hand, prancing over crates as he eludes a bumbling Fleet Street gang.

For those of you who have never seen a young Jackie Chan, I suggest that you watch the delightful Drunken Master (1978).

Shanghai Double Feature Blu-ray

Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Shanghai Noon Director: Tom Dey

Shanghai Noon Cast: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Lui, Jason Connery, Brandon Merrill, Roger Yuan, Xander Berkeley

Shanghai Noon Length: 110 minutes

Shanghai Knights Director: David Dobkin

Shanghai Knights Cast: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Aidan Gillen, Donnie Yen

Shanghai Knights Length: 114 minutes

Shanghai Double Feature Blu-ray

Rated: PG-13

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Shanghai Noon Audio:
   5.1 Dolby Digital
   5.1 Dolby Digital
   5.1 Dolby Digital

Shanghai Knights Audio:
   5.1 Dolby Digital
   5.1 Dolby Digital
   2.0 Dolby Digital

English SDH, French and Spanish

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