There’s few genres that are nearly as cool as the Western genre, and the Martial Arts genre. Both have been mainstays in cinema for quite some time, for good reason, because they both house some of the greatest films of all time. So it’s no surprise that combining the genres offered something fun and exciting. Mixed with a fish out of water comedy tale, ‘Shanghai Noon’, as well as it’s sequel, ‘Shanghai Knights’, come together as two of the most entertaining films of the early 2000’s. These two films were in constant rotation back when they were on DVD, but ever since blu-ray took off, I’ve been hoping that these two would eventually get a release. They seem like prime candidates for the format, with their fun action scenes in all the films, as well as some beautiful shots of the American frontier, the victorian London setting, and awesome costumes. While it was a long wait, Walt Disney Pictures has finally released the two films in a double feature pack, much to my delight, and probably to the joys of many Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson fans as well.
Disney has put together a pretty strong package here. Both films are one blu-ray disc, but quality really isn’t compromised because of it. The only downside to the combined disc is the fact that the film doesn’t feature lossless audio, which Disney is famously known for. Many of their films feature incredible lossless sound, but here, we have a much more toned down 5.1 Dolby mix. It’s not a bad mix, far from it, the movie sounds great, but it could sound a bit better with a lossless track. This isn’t a deal breaker though, as the both films look nothing short of spectacular. Once again, Disney shows why they’re one of the best in the business when it comes to blu-ray releases with this high definition transfer. Even with both films being on one disc, it doesn’t create any sort of compression issues, and both movies look absolutely fantastic. These are easily the best these two films have looked on home video.
The first film in the series, ‘Shanghai Noon’, follows Chon Wang (Chan), a man who comes to America to save a princess. In the process, he ends up with outlaw Roy O’Bannon, for better or for worse. But while the two may not get along, they realize that they need each other to stand against a man who is a traitor to China. The first of the two films is appropriately zany and fun, mixing the buddy cop genre well with a western and martial arts style, which is something we hadn’t quite seen before. The film is directed by Tom Dey, and proves to be a very fun film. Chan and Wilson are excellent together, and they really play off each other well. It’s a really fantastic pairing, and they really help elevate the film to great heights. Lucy Liu co-stars as Princess Pei Pei, and she is very good in the role. She seems like she’s having a ton of fun here. It’s one of her best performances, and one of my personal favorites. Disney has portered over many of the special features from the DVD version, which is a nice surprise. To begin with, the features include a handful of deleted scenes, nothing that really changes the film, but they’re definitely worth a watch. Also included are ‘Behind the Scenes’ look at the making of the film, ‘Action Overlord, which takes a look specifically at the film’s many action scenes, and a fantastic audio commentary with Jackie Chan, Owen, Wilson, and director Tom Dey. It’s a very entertaining commentary and is absolutely worth a listen. The first film looks and sounds great and really boasts some very nice special features, so it’s good to see the film has been treated so well. Thankfully, this is only the first of two films on the set.
In the sequel, ‘Shanghai Knights’, finds Chon and Roy on a mission to England to find the man who find the man who killed Chon’s father. But what the duo don’t know is there’s more to this murder than it seems, and a conspiracy unfolds that threatens to bring down the Royal Family. Once again, Wilson and Chan absolutely shine together, and I actually think they may be even better together this time around. Having both of them as “fish out of water” type characters makes them so much fun to watch together, and it really changes the dynamic. But it’s Donnie Yen, who really steals the show as Wu Yen. He’s a great villain, and his final fight with Jackie Chan in the film is really incredible. While the second film may not be quite as good as the first, it’s still very fun, and absolutely worth a watch. The film is accompanied by a nice selection of special features, much like the first. Once again, we’re given a selection of deleted scenes from the film, and once again, none of them really feel they should have been in the film. They’re very fun to watch, but they don’t add much to the movie. Then there’s ‘Fight Manual’, which is a documentary with Jackie Chan and director David Dobkin, which is very well done. It’s a very insightful look into the film that talks about the action in the film. Finally, we have two commentaries, one featuring David Dobkin, which is very informative about much of the behind the scenes of the film, and the other features Owen Wilson, and writers Alfred Gough and Miles Miller, which is a bit more entertaining and fun to listen to. Both commentaries give some great new perspective on the making of the film, and they’re both very worth to listen to.
‘Shanghai Noon’ and ‘Shanghai Knights’ may not be classic cinema, but they’re at least very fun and entertaining films. Featuring some great action scenes, a great pairing between Chan and Wilson, and one of the most entertaining genre mashups in recent memory, the films are definitely worth a look. Disney has put together a rather solid blu-ray release, featuring excellent video transfers, a pretty good audio mix, and plenty of special features to make fans of the movie happy. Fans of martial arts films, westerns, or Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson should definitely give this release a look, because it’s definitely earned a place on your shelf. This release earns my full recommendation.
- ‘Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights’ Double Featuring Coming to Blu-ray May 7 (chipandco.com)
- Two Great Comedies in One Combo Pack Comes to Blu-ray this Summer (chipandco.com)