HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights
HTS Overall Score:75
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Ah yes, finally we get some more classic Jackie Chan movies on Blu-ray. Coming from a 15 + year martial artist I’ve had a soft spot for Jackie and enjoy everything from his Hong Kong flicks to the his Australian and U.S. films. Besides “Rush Hour” I think that “Shanghai Noon” rates as his best American produced flicks to date. Jackie Chan has always had a unique niche in the martial arts film world. Most martial artists tend to be very serious and focused, while Jackie realized early on that he had a penchant for physical comedy and incorporated that into his acting style and created a unique blend of action and comedy that is unparalleled in the martial arts film industry. Mixing that along with his truly breathtaking stunt work (one of the few martial artists to do ALL his own stunts without fail, that is until recent years when his age has finally caught up to him), allows him to create films that tend to ok for the whole family. A good mix of action, comedy and high flying stunts creates a combination that just can’t be ignored.
Shanghai Noon :4stars:
“Shanghai Noon” was Jackie’s second truly American based film and it’s back when he was still able to manage the crazy stunts we all love so much. After the success of “Rush Hour” he was green lit to do just about anything that he wanted. Instead of going forward with another modern film he decided to do a period piece. How about instead of East meets west, we go with East meets the Old West.
Jackie plays Chon Wang (try saying that fast and you’ll get the joke), a second rate Imperial guard who accidentally lets the lovely princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu) get kidnapped and shipped off to America to be held for ransom. Due to his status among the guards he is not chosen as being one of the warriors sent to retrieve her and is instead relegated to guard duty for his uncle, who happens to be the interpreter being sent to the Americas. Once there, his Uncle is killed by a gang of outlaws who is led by the infamous Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson). As fates would have it, the two of them have to band together to each get what they want. Chon wants the Princess back and Roy has ransom gold in his eyes. Along the way they have to run from a psychotic Marshall Van Cleef (Xander Berkeley), get married to an Indian princess, rescue the Princess, bring a murderer and traitor to justice and have some fun while doing so.
“Shanghai Noon” has always been a personal favorite of mine for many years. I’ve worn out the DVD at least twice and bought both the regular and special editions. The whole movie just “works” on all levels. Owen Wilson is zany as ever and along with Jackie as the straight guy, makes for a wonderfully dynamic duo. The puns and clever jabs at old west cowboy films in general are well crafted and lighthearted enough that they don’t disrespect the genre at the same time. Lucy Liu is absolutely stunning as the kind hearted princess and Xander Berkeley plays the quintessential U.S. Marshall to a tee.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11688[/img]Shanghai Knights :3.5stars:
“Shanghai Knights” was unfortunately not as good of a sequel to “Shanghai Noon” as “Rush Hour 2” was to “Rush Hour”. The most I can say about it is that it tried a bit too hard to replicate the charm of the first one, but instead ended up just being strained and disjointed. Don’t get me wrong, the film is still quite a bit of fun and there’s some fantastic action sequences. The inclusion of Donnie Yen as the villain was pure gold. His speed is unparalleled and the fight scene between him and Chon Wang was exquisite. Not a bad film by any means, just quite a bit rougher and unpolished than I would have liked. As with most sequels they try to amp up the comedy aspect and as a result it just gets silly.
Chon Wang’s estranged father happens to end up murdered when protecting the royal seal back in the Forbidden City and the culprit escapes to England. With vengeance on his mind Chong Wang and Roy set out to merry old England to catch the villain. Upon arriving in England they find out that the villain is actually the illegitimate brother of the emperor (Donnie Yen) and is out to sell the seal to a creepy British Noble who wants to assume the throne of England by killing the queen. So now Chon Wang and Roy not only have to right the death of Chon’s father but save the queen of England as well.
Rated PG-13 for action violence, some drug humor, language and sensuality
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11687[/img]Shanghai Noon :4stars:
Surprisingly the first film has the best transfer of the two movies. Disney has given us an obviously older print, but one that has been kept relatively clean. Colors are bright and rich, with excellent contrast and natural skin tones. Black levels are quite good and you’ll get no complaints from me over the luscious country scenery. The only problems really come from having an older master with some of the aliasing and digital manipulation that was common back in the day. Another slight flaw was the fact that the film switches between crisp and clear to a rather grainy outdoor scene at the drop of a hat. Some of that grain, unfortunately, was digital noise, but a majority of it was simple film grain. It tended to be a bit jarring at times.
Shanghai Knights :3stars:
“Shanghai Knights” was definitely rather uncared for. Using a very old master that looks rather rough it is the poorest of the two presentations. Grainy and smeared to blazes and back with some nasty DNR it isn’t as impressive as one would have hoped for. It’s an upgrade over the old single disc edition DVD, but not a wild upgrade unlike its predecessing film. Colors are fairly bright and acceptable but detail is a bit hazy due to all the DNR and compression issues. Black levels tend to be a bit washed out, but overall satisfactory.
Shanghai Noon :4stars:
Now here’s the kicker. With all the special features they added, it appears that Disney had to make some cuts somewhere and that is with the audio. Ala their “Babes in Toyland” release we are given a 640 kbps Dolby Digital lossy track. Now, for such a wild action movie I was expecting a some serious drawbacks, but the track is actually quite good. LFE is rocking, the shotgun blasts literally hit you in the chest and there’s some nice deep pounding of hooves across the prairie. Dialogue was done, locked firmly in the center channel and balanced well with the rest of the track. The real downfall of the lossy track comes with the “depth” of the audio. It just felt like there wasn’t as much depth as one would assume for such a robust style of audio. Almost like that sensation where you can feel that “something” is missing, but you just can’t place your finger on it.
Shanghai Knights :4stars:
As with the first movie, this one has been given the same 5.1 lossy audio track. As with the previous film it also has that depth problem as well. However, the LFE on this track is even more bombastic (which I didn’t think possible) and there is some seriously great action sequences that showcase it quite well. Dialogue is acceptable along with the analysis of the first films track. Overall a solid track that is mainly marred by the lossy audio’s limitations.
• Deleted Scenes
• Behind the Scenes Featurettes
• Action Overload
• Audio Commentary with Jackie Chan
• Uncle Cracker Music Video
• Deleted Scenes
• Action Overload
• Directors Commentary
• Writers Commentary
Both “Shanghai” movies are a blast to watch, even with the faults of the second movie and it’s always good to see Jackie in his bigger budgeted films. Neither movie is going to win the academy awards but then again we really don’t see Jackie Chan movies for the incredibly well done plots. Full of action, comedy and a little romance it’s some of his better non Hong Kong films. The second films lack luster video scores and lossy audio are a bit of a disappointment, but both films show an upgrade both visually and sonically over their DVD counterparts (Shanghai Noon in particular). For those of you who love good action flicks like this than both movies for the price of a couple latte’s is a no brainer.
Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu, Donnie Yen
Directed by: Tom Dey : David Dobkin
Written by: Miles Millar, Alfred Gough
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: English, Spanish, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 110 minutes, 114 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Buy Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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