Princess Pei Pei has dreams of a life outside the Forbidden Palace where she doesn’t have to marry an oafish prince, so she decides to leave China for the exciting world of America. Little does she know that the man she trusts to take her there has ulterior motives and abducts her for a ransom, forcing her to work as a slave. The Palace sends Imperial Guards to rescue her, including Chon Wang who feels responsible for her kidnapping. However, the Wild West is a shock to the system for Chon Wang who has to understand the differences to his own culture and adapt to survive in a land of cowboys, Indians and corrupt lawmen.

Shanghai Noon (2000) – Director: Tom Dey

Is Shanghai Noon appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 110 mins

Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Xander Berkeley

Genre: Martial Arts, Western, Comedy

 

REVIEW

Shanghai Noon’, first and foremost is a culture clash comedy of East meets West; Chan’s honourable, honest and ‘good’ Imperial Guard meets Wilson’s dishonourable, dishonest and ‘bad’ outlaw. This works well thanks to Wilson’s genuine persona of someone who is good at heart but enjoys taking the easy way out of difficult situations. They both change in a subtle but realistic way which suits their characters well. There is also plenty of time and respect given to all elements of the movie including the cowboys, the Native Americans and China’s strict rules of honesty and hierarchy without going overboard.

This is a very light-hearted movie which manages to be both funny and exciting. The pairing works well; Chan’s natural comedic timing and excellently choreographed fight scenes combined with Wilson’s natural, easy-going manner which, despite his character’s imperfections, is hard to dislike. ‘Shanghai Noon’ is the directorial debut of Tom Dey, which displays his impressive knack for balancing several differing aspects of a movie which could easily become too bogged down in making a point of showing the prejudices between the two countries at that time. This is a movie which is entertaining, well paced and it showcases the talents of its lead actors. For anyone who wants a fun and exciting martial arts film, ‘Shanghai Noon’ is bound to tick all the boxes as it delivers exactly what is promised.

IS ‘SHANGHAI NOON’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

The sexual content is likely to be of most concern for parents. When Chon is taken in by a Native American tribe, he is given a ‘peace pipe’ to smoke which acts as a drug. This makes him laugh uncontrollably and then pass out. He wakes the following morning in a tepee and sees a drawing on the side of the tent of two horses mating. He then realises that a woman’s arm is draped over him. When he leaves the tepee, the whole tribe is standing outside who cheer and whoop when they see him. He discovers that he is now married to the woman (who is the chief’s daughter) and shakes his head to indicate that he is unhappy with this turn of events. His new wife says to her father, ‘he did not complain last night’. While this is relatively mild and nothing explicit is seen or mentioned in the dialogue, it is a little unusual for this type of Jackie Chan character.

Later in the movie, Chon and Roy are about to walk into a building, Roy says ‘I’m not gonna rest until I’ve pumped everybody in there for information’, it is then revealed that the building they are entering is a brothel which is well-known to Roy. Chon and Roy spend a while in the brothel but this is mostly together as they get drunk while playing a Chinese drinking game. A prostitute does walk into the room, asking ‘are you coming?’ to Roy who then goes to a different room with her. He is seen to talk to her but nothing else is shown.

During one scene, Chon and Roy are about to be hung. The sheriff announces that they are sentenced to be ‘hung by their necks ‘til their feet quit kicking’; this causes the crowd to cheer. The crowd, including children, then start chanting ‘hang ‘em, hang ‘em’ and are clearly looking forward to seeing the public execution. Another character is nearby and is able to help Chon and Roy escape their fate. Later in the movie, a character has a thick rope put around their neck and is hoisted up in the air. They struggle and gag as they are pulled upwards and killed.

There is also quite a lot of moderate cursing and blasphemy throughout the movie and, as this is a movie which is likely to appeal to a lot of kids, parents may be concerned about these words being repeated. As with other Jackie Chan movies, there is a blooper reel during the end credits and several moderate curse words are used here as well. There are also times when characters spit on their hands in order to shake on a deal. Parents who dislike spitting may wish to be aware of this in case their children are likely to copy this behaviour.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

Shanghai Noon’ is a relatively superficial but incredibly entertaining movie which doesn’t pretend to be anything else. The chemistry between Chan and Wilson is completely natural and the energy both of them give to their roles makes for very compelling viewing. We feel that, depending on how you feel about bad language in movies, ‘Shanghai Noon’ should be appropriate for kids aged 8 and over.

  • Violence: 2/5 (one character is killed by having an oyster shell pushed into his throat. He gags and the shell is pushed in slightly further but there is no blood and this moment only lasts for a few seconds. Also, one character is hurt when a sheriff’s badge is thrown into his hand and a small amount of blood is seen. This happens to a ‘bad’ character so should not be too distressing for kids)
  • Emotional Distress: 0/5
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (Chon and Roy are often in tight spots and it isn’t always clear how they will get out of their situations)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (sexual content is implied with dialogue, nothing explicit is seen)
  • Bad Language: 3/5
  • Dialogue: 3/5 (as might be expected from a movie about outlaws in the Wild West, death is often mentioned, especially hanging. Most characters use some racist language but this is done mainly to show the ignorance of the time. When in America, many Chinese people are used as slave labour and are treated badly. Princess Pei Pei is told that if she escapes then many of the slaves will be killed until she is found)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of accepting people’s differences, adapting to new cultures, understanding that other people’s needs may come before your own desires, taking a more difficult route if it is the correct thing to do and helping people who need you.

 

Words by Laura Record

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