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Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights: 2-Movie Collection (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 29, 2013 by  



“Shanghai Noon” was a much better film than it sequel “Shanghai Knights” and each are both entertaining popcorn action films.  For those who enjoy this film, while it doesn’t have the lossless soundtrack, it’s definitely worth upgrading for the better picture quality.   For fans of both films, “Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights: 2- Movie Collection” , it’s worth the upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray!

Images courtesy of © 2013 Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights: 2-Movie Collection

FILM RELEASE: Shanghai Noon (2000), Shanghai Knights (2003)

DURATION: Shanghai Noon: 110 Minutes, Shanghai Knights: 114 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), Dolby Digital 5.1, English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital (“Shanghai Noon”) and 2.0 (“Shanghai Knights”).  Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Action Violence, Some Drug Humor, Language and Sensuality)

Release Date: May 7, 2013

Shanghai Noon

Directed by Tom Dey

Written by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough

Producer: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman

Executive Producer: Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Solon So

Co-Producer: Jules Daly, Ned Dowd

Original Music by Randy Edelman

Cinematography by Daniel Mindel

Edited by Richard Chew

Casting by Matthew Barry, Nancy Green-Keyes

Production Design by Peter J. Hampton

Art Direction by Jeff Gin, Brandt Gordon

Set Decoration by Bryony Foster

Costume Design by Joseph A. Porro

Shanghai Knights

Directed by David Dobkin

Written/Characters by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar

Produced by Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman

Executive Producer: Stephanie Austin, Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Edward McDonnell, Solon So

Associate Producer: David Minkowski, Matthew Stillman, Scott Thaler

Music by Randy Edelman

Cinematography by Adrian Biddle

Edited by Malcolm Campbell

Casting by Priscilla John, Donna Morong

Production Design by Allan Cameron

Art Direction by Giles masters, Tony Reading, Jaromir Svarc

Set Decoration by Barbora Bucharova, Peter Young

Costume Design by Anna B. Sheppard

Shanghai Noon

Jackie Chan as Chon Wang

Owen Wilson as Roy O’Bannon

Lucy Liu as Princess Pei Pei

Brandon Merrill as Indian Wife

Roger Yuan as Lo Fong

Xander Berkeley as Van Cleef

Jason Connery as Andrews

Walton Goggins as Wallace

Adrien Dorval as Blue

Shanghai Knights

Jackie Chan as Chon Wang

Owen Wilson as Roy O’Bannon

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Charlie Chaplin

Tom Fisher as Artie Doyle

Aidan Gillen as Rathbone

Fann Wong as Chon Lin

Donnie Yen as Wu Chow

Oliver Cotton as Jack the Ripper

East meets West in two wildly hilarious comedies starring legendary action star Jackie Chan and funnyman Owen Wilson. Experience Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights for the first time on Blu-ray, featuring new digital restoration with enhanced picture and sound. Chinese Imperial Guard Chon Wang is in for a real kick when he travels to the rough and tumble Old West to rescue the beautiful kidnapped princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu). Teamed with laid-back cowboy outlaw Roy O’Bannon, the two mismatched partners face jail, brawls, and the vilest villains this side of the Great Wall. Then jump in the saddle for the wild and wooly sequel as the two unlikely heroes make their way to London on a daring quest for honor and revenge. These two uproarious comic adventures are even better on Blu-ray!

With the success of “Rush Hour” in 1998, more films to showcase martial arts movie star Jackie Chan continued well into the 2000’s and this time around, pairing him with actor Owen Wilson in the martial arts action comedy western film titled “Shanghai Noon”.

Earning over $99 million in the box office, the film featured the filmmaking debut of Tom Dey (“Showtime”, “Failure to Launch”) and feature a screenplay written by writing duo Miles Millar and Alfred Gough (“Spider-Man 2”, “I Am Number Four”, “Smallville”).

The film featured an all-star cast with Jackie Chan (“Rush Hour” films, “The Karate Kid”, “Shinjuku Incident”), Owen Wilson (“Midnight in Paris”, “Wedding Crashers”, “Cars” films), Lucy Liu (“Kill Bill: Vol. 1”, “Lucky Number Slevin”, “Charlie’s Angels”), Roger Yuan (“Batman Begins”, “Skyfall”, “Syriana”) and Xander Berkeley (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, “Air Force One”, “Gattaca”, “Taken”).

Set in the 19th Century, Chong Wang (portrayed by Jackie Chan) is a Chinese Imperial Guard and overhears Princess Pei-Pei (portrayed by Lucy Liu) wanting her freedom.  A foreigner working with the Emperor tells the Princess that if she wants out of the country, she must leave immediately as they can get her to America by ship.  Overhearing this, Chong goes after her but the princess yells at him.  While she leaves, she accidentally drops a book which Chong Wang picks up.

Fearing that the princess may have been abducted, the Emperor of China sends three of his best guards and Wang’s uncle are sent to retrieve her in Carson City, Nevada. Chong Wang is given permission as well, but only to help with carrying their luggage.

In Nevada, Roy O’Bannon is an outlaw, along with his gang, robs a train which Wang happens to be on and Roy O’Bannon’s new gang member Wallace (portrayed by Walton Goggins) gets carried away and shoots Chong Wang’s uncle and kills him.  Roy O’Bannon is upset that Wallace killed a person and reminds him that he is their leader.

When Chong looks for his uncle, he is shocked to find him dead and he runs after the robbers.  He manages to fight many of them off but thinking that Roy O’Bannon is responsible, Roy tells Chong Wang that Wallace did it and allows him to escape.  Meanwhile Wallace backstabs Roy and tells him that he is in charge now.  He and Roy’s former team bury him in the middle of the desert with only his head sticking out of the dirt.

Chong Wang manages to find Roy buried and asks where is Carson City and Roy gives him the wrong directions.  Meanwhile, Chong gives Roy two chopsticks to dig himself out.

Going the wrong direction, Chong ends up going into Indian territory and manages to save an Indian boy from another tribe.  Because he saved the boy, the Indian chief gives his daughter to Chong Wang as a wife. Despite Chong trying to refuse, he is unable to and he and his new Indian wife (portrayed by Brandon Merrill) head to the next village.

And in this next village, he runs into Roy O’Bannon once again.  And the two get into a lot of trouble and get themselves into a fighting match with other cowboys.

Meanwhile, in Carson City, Princess Pei-Pei finds out that going to America was all planned and she was kidnapped by a traitor to her people, Lo Fong (portrayed by Roger Yuan) who is using the princess as a way for the Emperor to give up their gold and for Lo Fong to also destroy the Emperor and his rule over China.  Because she refuses to submit to his demands, Lo Fong makes the Princess join the other Chinese workers who must endure harsh working conditions.

As for Chong Wang and Roy O’Bannon, the unlikely two decide to become partners as Roy wants to help Chong Wang get to Carson City (but also thinking their will be a wonderful reward if he saves the Princess).  But because both are wanted men, they are also being pursued by Marshal Nathan Van Cleef and his posse.

Will the two unlikely partners be able to save Princess Pei-Pei?

With the success of “Shanghai Noon” in the box office, it would guarantee a sequel in 2003 titled “Shanghai Knights” but this time directed by David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”, “Fred Claus”, “The Change-Up”).  But bringing back both writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

“Shanghai Knights” takes place in 1887 and we are introduced to Chong Wang’s sister Chon Lin (portrayed by Fann Wong, “Dance of the Dragon”, “The Truth About Jane and Sam”) and Chong’s father.  We learn that with Chong Wang deciding to stay in America and not return back to China, it dampered relations between him and his father.

One night as Chong’s father is putting away a seal, a group of men led by a British man named Rathbone (portrayed by Aidan Gillen, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Blitz”, “The Wire”) comes for the seal and kills Chong Wang’s father and beating his sister up.  As Rathbone and his men leave, Chong’s father tells Lin to bring back a puzzle box to her brother.

In Carson City, Chong Wang is still a sheriff but we learn that Roy O’Bannon had left to become a businessman in New York City.   And there have been fictionalized books about Roy O’Bannon’s exploits and his partnership with a cowardly sidekick known as the Shanghai Kid.

After receiving a letter from his sister about her father and how he was murdered and that she hopes he can meet her in London as she tries to reclaim the family, Imperial Seal but also get revenge on Rathbone for the murder of their father.

Chong Wang goes to New York City to get some of the gold that both had earned after saving Princess Pei-Pei (from the first film “Shanghai Noon”), so he can go to London.  But while in New York, Chong learns that Roy has lost all the money, investing it in bad business deals and now he is a waiter for a restaurant.

Despite having no money, both men hide themselves in a crate in hopes it will get them to London.  And while there, Roy has items pickpocketed by a young boy named Charlie Chaplin (portrayed by Aaron Johnson) and as they try to reclaim these items, they are caught by the police.  Inspector Artie Doyle (portrayed by Thomas Fisher) doesn’t keep them in prison but congratulates the two for taking down the Fleet Street Gang. But with a serial killer on the loose named “Jack the Ripper”, Doyle must now work on a case trying to catch a woman named “Looney Lin” who tried to assassinate Lord Rathbone.

The two try to find a way to get inside Rathbone’s mansion to find the seal, meanwhile we learn that Rathbone is dealing with Wu Chow (portrayed by Donnie Yen), who we learn is behind the death of Wong’s father, while Rathbone was just helping out Wu Chow, so he can become part of the new royalty and find his way to be come part of the next line in the throne.

Will Chow Wang get his revenge and as for Roy O’Bannon, will he be able to win the heart of Chong Wang’s sister, Lin?

VIDEO:

“Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights: 2-Movie Collection” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  Having owned both DVD’s, picture quality for both films look amazing on Blu-ray!  Colors are much more vibrant, the film doesn’t look like it’s nearly 14-years-old.  Colors are vibrant and sharp outdoors, black levels are nice and deep.  If anything, both films definitely looks much better in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Shanghai Noon” and “Shanghai Knights” is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital (note: Spanish is 5.1 on “Shanghai Noon” and 2.0 on “Shanghai Knights”).  I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that the films did not receive a DTS-HD Master Audio conversion as most films from Buena Vista or Touchstone Home Entertainment receive a lossless audio conversion.  With that being said, both films had active surround Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks when they were released on DVD.  As can be said with the soundtrack on Blu-ray!    Good use of surround channels for the action sequences and LFE, while the second film tend to utilize the music soundtrack a bit more with its modern music.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights: 2-Movie Collection” comes with the following special features:

Shanghai Noon

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Tom Dey and Owen Wilson, with a separately record audio commentary with Jackie Chan incorporated.
  • Deleted Scenes – A total of eight deleted scenes (no choice for “play all”).
  • Making an Eastern Western – (3:23) A featurette about bringing two cultures together in one story.
  • Partners – (4:09) Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson are two different people but how they work well together and what they brought to their characters.
  • Jackie’s Comedy – (3:48) Giving Jackie a chance to do Buster Keaton and bringing comedy to his action scenes.
  • Western Stunts, Eastern Style – (3:39) Utilizing both Hong Kong and Western fight choreography for “Shanghai Noon” and the differences.
  • Hanging with Roy and the Kid – (2:16) Planning for one of the most riskiest stunts and destruction of a major set piece for the film.
  • Action Overload – (2:41) A glimpse at action scenes with music.
  • Choo Choo Boogie – (3:09) Making of the train scene and behind-the-scenes footage played to banjo country music.
  • “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” Music Video – (4:09) Featuring a music video performed by Uncle Kracker.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:18) The theatrical trailer for “Shanghai Noon”.

Shanghai Knights

  • Directors’ Commentary – Featuring audio directory by David Dobkin who discusses the challenges of shooting in another country, the importance of time management and the difficulties experienced and more.
  • Screenwriters Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Alfred Gough and Miles Miller.
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring eleven deleted scenes total.
  • Fight Manual – (9:03) The difficulty of comedy and action and Jackie Chan talking about working with director who knows editing.
  • Action Overload – (1:34) Featuring the action scenes done in a silent film style with intertitles and music.

It was a chance to see a different side of Jackie Chan, combining martial arts, action and western?  Who would of thought that this concept would work?  But in 2000, people came out to see Jackie Chan, the legendary martial arts actor who has been in movies since the 1960’s.

While many Americans saw Jackie Chan in the popular 1981 film “The Cannonball Run”, while martial arts fans were treated with fantastic Jackie Chan films through the ’80s such as the “Police Story” films, “Supercop” films and “The Legend of Drunken Master”, many had to import these films or watch them at a film festival.

Until 1995 and many had the opportunity to see Jackie Chan in a film that was dubbed but tailored to Western tastes with “Rumble in the Bronx”.  This led to past films he made, being dubbed in English and being released in theaters or direct-to-video and by 1997, he was making films such as “Mr. Nice Guy” and “Who Am I?”.

But it’s the police comedy “Rush Hour”, where people had a chance to see a film directed by an American and combining Jackie Chan’s martial arts skills with comedy, playing opposite to an American talent.  “Rush Hour” was a box office success and would spawn two more films, writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar would create an action western but utilizing another American collaboration with Jackie Chan but with Owen Wilson, who was not the big star as he would later become, as the only major films he had appeared in were “The Haunting”, “Armageddon” and “Anaconda”.  Suffice to say, “Shanghai Noon” would continue showcasing Jackie Chan as the legendary martial arts actor on the big screen, while Owen Wilson would show that he can do comedy films and be a headliner.

The film would also allow Jackie Chan to incorporate his Hong Kong fight choreography using his crew, but also working with an American crew to have an East meets West type of production, but to also showcase Jackie Chan’s Buster Keaton physical comedy-style that he has been known for.

“Shanghai Noon” would go on to make over $99 million and in 2003, it sequel “Shanghai Knights” would go on to make over $88 million.

It has probably been a decade or more since I have watched each of these films.  At the time, I was still on a Jackie Chan high, and really wanting to watch every film that he has starred in.  One thing that we know about Jackie Chan is that he is an actor that is so dedicated, but also willing to sacrifice his body in order to make these films.  He makes it look easy, when you know, he’s probably been hurt countless times while shooting the film.

My thoughts on “Shanghai Noon” was that the film gave Jackie Chan a chance to show that collaborations between an Eastern fight staff and a Western staff can be done and how important fight scenes are in getting the timing right.  That is the experience that Jackie Chan brings to a film.

While “Rush Hour” plays on the racial card for a lot of its humor, “Shanghai Noon” is more or less about two guys who were not that great at what they do.  Jackie Chan was not a good Imperial Guard and Owen Wilson was not a good Outlaw.  But these two found a way to work with each other and take on significant odds.  It’s a classic story of underdogs managing to get the job done!

“Shanghai Noon” also starred Lucy Liu who was best known during the ’90s and early 2000’s for “Ally McBeal” but 2000 would prove to be a banner year for Liu who would star in both “Shanghai Noon” and as one of the angels in “Charlie’s Angels”.

But the film was fun and a pure popcorn action film with two unlikely talents to be put together in a film and it worked!

As for “Shanghai Knights”, the film tries to bank on new director David Dobkin (who would later direct comedy films “Wedding Crashers”, “Fred Claus” and “The Change-Up”).  When I watched this in the theater back in 2003, there were a few things that bothered me about the film.

For one, how would they address the women that were part of the lives of Chon Wang and Roy O’Bannon from the first film, how would they utilize one of the most well-known martial arts actors from Hong Kong with Donnie Yen and how would the story be with the characters leaving America and going straight to London.

While bringing the story to London would allow for great play of names such as Charlie Chaplin and Artie Doyle (or Arthur Conan Doyle), it’s one thing to have fun with that.  But the problem was that the writers tried to take what made the first film enjoyable but taking them out of the western environment and bringing them London.  It just didn’t seem right, nor did the character of Rathbone in the beginning, killing Wong’s father.  The character didn’t seem ominous, he looked too much like singer, Josh Groban.

And while Jackie Chan was able to deliver in action as expected, the story also suffers from third wheel problems, by giving too much time for Chon Lin.  While it’s great for the film to showcase Fann Wong in action scenes, I often wondered if they knew how awesome of an actor  Donnie Yen was.  This could have led to one of the greatest matchups in an American martial arts film (ie. think Jackie Chan vs. Jet Li), but instead, they gave more screentime to the character of Rathbone and it just didn’t seem right. The battle between Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen’s characters just fell flat and how it ends was just terrible.  The utilization of supporting characters and antagonists didn’t seem right and while the film was OK, “Shanghai Noon” was so much better!

As for the Blu-ray release, having owned both DVD’s of the films, both films definitely look so much better in High Definition, but I was surprised both did not receive the lossless treatment.  Both are Dolby Digital 5.1 instead of DTS-HD MA 5.1 and I found that to be surprising.  But both had wonderful soundtracks when they were released on DVD years ago and still sounds active through the surround channels and a bit of LFE utilized as well for this Blu-ray release.  Both films are featured on one Blu-ray disc.  You also get all the DVD special features content included with this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights: 2- Movie Collection” are entertaining as popcorn action comedy films.  These films are definitely not the best Jackie Chan films, nor his worst.  But I found these films much more easier to stomach without the racial comedy as seen in the “Rush Hour” films.

“Shanghai Noon” was a much better film than it sequel “Shanghai Knights” and while I don’t see a third film ever being released (especially with Jackie Chan’s comments on America and his previous American films made earlier this year), the release of both films back in the early 2000’s was about interest in both talents, good timing and the timing was just right as people wanted to see more of Jackie Chan, the martial arts action star and Owen Wilson, the up-and-coming star.

For those who enjoy this film, while it doesn’t have the lossless soundtrack, it’s definitely worth upgrading for the picture quality and I do recommend this “Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights: 2- Movie Collection” for fans of the two films or are fans of  Jackie Chan or Owen Wilson.

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