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Film: Shanghai Noon

Shanghai Noon is a comedy Western film starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. Chan plays a Chinese guardsman, Chon Wang, who travels to America to rescue the kidnapped Imperial princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu), teaming up along the way with disreputable gunslinger Roy O'Bannon (played by Owen), a small time robber with delusions of grandeur. Together, the two forge through one misadventure after another. Directed by Tom Dey, it was written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. The movie, set in Nevada and other parts of the west in the 19th century, is a juxtaposition of a western with a Jackie Chan kung fu action movie with extended martial arts sequences. It also has elements of comedy and the "Buddy Cop" film genre, as it involves two men of different personalities and ethnicities (a Chinese imperial guard and a Western outlaw) who team up to stop a crime.

In the sequel directed by David Dobkin, Shanghai Knights, they travel to Victorian London to foil a plot against the Queen. Also starring Singaporean actress Fann Wong as Chon Wang's sister, Chon Lin. In the 1880's, Chon Wang's father and keeper of the Imperial Seal has been murdered by Parliament and royal family member Rathbone, who steals the Imperial Seal, with Chon Wang's sister, Chon Lin, witnessing the murder. Chon Lin follows Rathbone to London to kill him, while sending Chon a letter telling him of the murder. Chon then travels to New York for Roy O'Bannon. Together they travel to England and meet up with Chon Lin to defeat Rathbone and get the Imperial Seal back.

This film series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Marriage: Chon Wang ends up accidentally married (from his POV) to the Sioux chief's elder daughter (who knew exactly what she was doing). She follows him around for the rest of the movie, periodically saving his ass, only to end up trading him in for Roy at the end. She ditches them BOTH in the sequel.
    Sioux Shaman (to the chief): Hey, it could be worse. She could have married a white guy.
  • Action Girl: Lin. Princess Pei-Pei gets a brief spurt of ass-kicking against Lo Fong at the end of the first.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: A horse who knew "sit" and probably a few other commands. Played for laughs, as it's a partial parody of the Improbably Well-Trained Horse common to a lot of Westerns.
  • All There in the Manual: Although she's never properly identified, Chon's Indian wife is called Falling Leaves.
  • Anachronism Stew: A major source of comedy.
  • The Artful Dodger: Charlie Chaplin
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Rathbone basically hands Chon his head.
    • From the same film, Rathbone's partner in regicide Wu Chow also hands Chon his rear.
    • Princess Pei-Pei can kick some ass too.
  • Bald of Evil: Lo Fong. Shiny pates may be kinda pretty, but this guy's attitude more than makes up for the dome.
  • Bar Brawl: When Chon Wang meets Roy again in a saloon after getting married by accident, he unwittingly exposes Roy's cheating in cards. Chaos ensues.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: When Chon skirmishes with Roy inside the saloon:
    Van Cleef: What the hell is going on in there?
    (Roy is thrown through the front window out into the street)
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Each film has a Chinese outlaw and a Westerner working together, so that both Chon and Roy have somebody to fight at the climax.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Chon towards Lin in Knights.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Chon and Roy fail at this whenever the Rule of Funny calls for it, but succeed whenever the Rule of Drama is in play.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the title sequence of Noon, the Chinese text is a Chinese translation of The Frog Prince.
  • Blind Obedience: Chon's character arc in Noon revolves around him learning how to think for himself and not to simply follow orders.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: Guns and swords in a church. And Roy dressed up as a monk...
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Subverted and parodied, the Indians Chon befriended earlier show up to save the day. The shot is even matched.
  • Bookcase Passage: The fireplace subtype. It's a woman's breast.
  • British Royal Guards: In Knights, Roy, after failing to provoke a reaction from a guard, gives the guard a friendly pat on the shoulder, and receives a Groin Attack with the butt of the guard's rifle in return.
  • Buried Alive: At least from the neck down.
  • California Doubling
  • Catch and Return: Unexpected, because it's done by a random Indian warrior to Chon Wang, the Chinese martial artist.
  • Chessmaster Sidekick: The Sioux chief's elder daughter, in the first movie, helps them out just about every time the protagonists are incapable of helping themselves.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Chon Wang ends up married to her in Noon.
  • Chinese Laborer: Prominently featured in Noon.
  • Click Hello: In Noon, first done by Roy to Long, then by the Marshal to everybody.
  • Clock Tower: Shanghai Knights has its climax in Big Ben. Rathbone is tossed out of it, and Wang and O'Bannon must go the same way. But they have a flag to slow their descent.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Usually utilised by the bad guys while Chon Wang is all about fighting honorably, however in the sequel after he realises he can't defeat Rathbone in a swordfight Chon cuts the rope supports on the platform they're both standing on, throwng him out the window.
  • Crashing Dreams: From surrounded by lovely ladies, to playful biting, to waking up and getting half-eaten by vultures in the first movie.
    • And again in the second movie, the same character dreams of the girl he likes making out with him, then wakes up accompanied by a sheep.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Van Cleef falls into this at times.
    Roy (missing wildly): Did I hit you?!
    Van Cleef: No. But you're getting really close.
  • Destination Defenestration: Chon Wang tosses Roy out of a window when he realizes that being associated with Roy makes him a wanted outlaw.
  • Description Cut: In the beginning of Knights, Chon Wang insists that Roy has changed. Cue the next scene, which shows Roy being the same old Handsome Lech and surrounded by women.
  • Disney Villain Death: Happens in Shanghai Knights when Chon cuts the supports and sends Rathbone flying out the clock tower face. Rathbone falls to his death and even gets a Wile E. Coyote puff of smoke when he hits the ground. Subverted immediately after when Chon and Roy fall off the clock tower as well, but survive after grabbing the flag and landing in the Queen's carriage.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Roy wasn't entirely evil, but at the time he was a bandit he was disgusted that Wallace killed Chon Wang's uncle. He even outs Wallace for the crime when Chon confronted him about it.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Pei-Pei (played by Lucy Liu) in the first movie.
  • Evil Brit: Lord Rathbone in Knights.
  • Fish out of Water: Jackie Chan as a Chinese imperial guard in the Old West. Hilarity Ensues!
  • Fun with Acronyms: Thief Roy O'Bannon has his initials on his gun: R.O.B.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: The two hilarious Native Americans in the first film.
  • Gatling Good: Rathbone's Gatling Gun, though he refers to it as a Machine Gun, a weapon that wouldn't be invented for a few more decades.
  • Gentleman Thief: Roy was a particularly nice one of these as leader of his gang before meeting Chon, but had the unfortunately poor judge of character to choose underlings who are cruel, stupid, Ax-Crazy and far too ambitious all at once.
  • Gilligan Cut: In Noon, after a very intense drinking game, Roy has gotten tired, but Chon wants another game. Roy tells Chon "No mas. No more drinking." Cut to them furiously playing again.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: "I don't know karate but I know kah-razy!" (with apologies to James Brown).
    • And subverted three seconds later as he is thrown through the window.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Subverted — "Oh, you mean the sick prisoner routine? Does that still work in China? 'Cause here it's sorta been done to death."
  • Handsome Lech: Roy O'Bannon.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: As the credits roll, just like in Rush Hour (but actually a Call Back to Jackie Chan's Hongkong movies, with outtakes of a more painful variety)
  • Historical In-Joke: WAY too many to list here. We start with Charlie Chaplin tagging with the heroes, who get him into the film business.
  • Historical Person Punchline: That kid who's been hanging around all movie? His name's Charlie Chaplin.
  • Horsing Around: The palomino ridden by Chon Wang has a mind of its own and rarely responds to his wishes unless it wants to.
  • I Choose to Stay: Princess Pei Pei decides to stay in America and help the Chinese immigrants living there.
  • I Have No Son: At the start of the second movie, Chon's father has disowned him for abandoning the family for America. Chon does not take this very well when Lin informs him of this, especially since his father said it shortly before he was murdered by Rathbone. However, Chon is given a puzzle box containing a message from his father that he was indeed proud of him.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: In the second movie, while being captured by Rathbone, after initially objecting to the idea of a relationship between his sister Lin and Roy, Chon accepts it, but adds, "Break her heart, I break your legs," to which Roy replies, "That's fair."
  • I'm Not Hungry: In Noon, Lo Fong tries to give some food to Princess Pei Pei. She immediately knocks the tray over.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: A hero example in the first film with Roy during the whole movie. The second film has one of the villains using a mounted machine gun but doesn't hit any of his intended targets, although it's slightly justified in that no one's really used one before.
  • Improvised Weapon: Chon Wang employs them in every fight scene.
  • Indian Maiden
  • Indy Ploy: Parodied, where Roy - at this point a train robber - comes up with an elaborate and well-timed plan to stop the train and get the money seamlessly. His men - who aren't the brightest of the bunch - stare blankly and Roy reluctantly agrees to "wing it."
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Roy changes his mind about Chon after the Bar Brawl.
  • In My Language That Sounds Like: Word of God describes this happening in Noon, when the Indian chief tries to teach Chon to say the American Indian greeting "How", whereas in Chinese, "hao" means "good".
  • Inscrutable Oriental:This trope comes to mind during the jail scene in Noon, in which Roy keeps trying to get Chon to relax.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures:
    • In the second film, Roy tells Chon to wobble his head to look more Indian. When Chon protests that he's Chinese, Roy says they're the same thing. Justified in that Chon is actually pretending to be Indian.
    • And then dismissed immediately after: Rathbone has spent time in India and China but doesn't make a scene, in favor of blithely discussing his hopes that China follows India's example of accepting British rule.
    • Roy does this throughout the first film. After breaking out of jail, Roy says to Chon "You believe in Karma over there, right?" and "I guess this is what your people call 'Sayonara'." Chon throws the latter line back at him because he overheard him telling Fifi that he isn't really his friend.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: In the second movie, the main characters create the personas of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, freely give the idea to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and take on a young Charlie Chaplin as a sidekick. Oh, and Roy O'Bannon's real name is Wyatt Earp.
    • Rule of Funny applies in spades: Doyle is inaccurately depicted as a policeman, and the film is set two years before Chaplin was even born.
  • Ironic Echo: In the first film: "This is the West, not the East. And the sun may rise there, but here is where it sets."
  • It Will Never Catch On: O'Bannon dismisses Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories as ridiculous and is glad he invested his money in zeppelins instead of that new-fangled "automobile". He finally strikes gold with motion pictures.
  • Jackie Chan Is About To Give You The Best High Five Ever!: While Owen Wilson shoots at something in the distance.
  • King Incognito: Pei-Pei is held prisoner without her identity to the railroad slaves being revealed. Chon blows her cover when he bows to her.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: When Chon finally gets to the imprisoned Pei-Pei, he bows to her and refuses to get up. This reveals her identity to the other railroad workers, who also kneel before her.
  • Land in the Saddle: Roy and Chon do this to escape Van Cleef. Roy is successful; Chon, who has never done before and is drunk besides, lands on the horse backwards, which is also drunk, and then falls over.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: As Lo Fong corners a weakened Chon, Princess Pei-Pei springs into action (even as she's injured herself) and kicks Lo Fong's ass long enough for Chon to get the upper hand for good.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Chon initially has to fight off an Imperial Guard in the climax before they realize Pei-Pei's in danger and must confront Lo Fong.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In Shanghai Knights, Roy comes up with the pseudonym "Sherlock Holmes" in this manner. No, not from seeing anything written by Arthur Conan Doyle: In fact, he's the one who inspires Sir Arthur to use that name.
  • Lovable Rogue: Roy.
  • Mexican Standoff: Lampshaded. The corrupt sheriff comes in during the ransom money trade-off and pulls out dual pistols, which equates to a lot of weapons drawn and a lot of targets.
    Sheriff Van Cleef: What do you know...it's a Mexican standoff...only we ain't got no Mexicans.
  • Monumental Battle: Big Ben in the second film.
  • Mugging the Monster: Jack the Ripper tried to attack Lin after she just left their inn in a bad mood. End result is, at least we know why the killings suddenly stopped.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: "My life is flashing before my eyes! Wait! I don't remember her."
  • My Sister Is Off Limits: Chon Wang acts like this when Lin and Roy starts getting along.
  • Noodle Implements: "She picked the lock using a deck of rather risque playing cards, then she scaled the walls using a mop, a fork, and various pilfered undergarments. You've got to hand it to the Chinese; they're really quite ingenious, aren't they?"
  • Oh Crap: Wu Chow has this expression right before he explodes. Rathbone also gets an ...off putting look on his face when Chon cuts the support ropes.
    • In the first film, Lo Fong gets a brief one before the rope hangs him skyward. Chon gets a comedic one when an Indian catches his thrown axe.
  • One Bullet Left: This first movie has this in probable homage to A Fistful of Dollars. Roy O'Bannon has one bullet left in his gun, and says as much to Van Cleef. Out of a "sense of fair play", Van Cleef mimes emptying his still fully-loaded revolvers, leading to a final shootout with Roy's one bullet vs. his 12. Roy gets him right through the heart.
    Van Cleef: "Now how the hell did that happen?" *collapses*
    • By the way, this is the only time in the movie Roy successfully shoots anything. When he tells Chon, he doesn't believe him at all. Roy notes that the baddie's bullets all went through the robe he was wearing without leaving a scratch on him.
  • Parasol of Pain: Chon also had a memorable umbrella fight in Shanghai Knights, complete with a Homage to Singin' in the Rain.
    • Directly in front of Charlie Chaplin. Can you read the subtext?
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: In both movies, Chon and Roy are split when one overhears the other saying they're not really friends; Roy tells a woman he's not friends with Chon in Noon and Chon tells Lin Roy isn't really his friend in Knights. They get better.
  • Pocket Protector: Subverted. When Roy shoots the corrupt sheriff at the climax of the first movie, the bullet goes right through the center of the sheriff star, leaving a big hole.
    • Also subverted when Doyle is shot in the second movie.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: Chon thinks that he sees the eyes in a painting move, while Roy, engrossed in a book about the Kama Sutra, dismisses him - until he sees it for himself and freaks out. It turns out that Chon's sister had been hiding "inside" the painting.
  • Precision F-Strike: In the outtakes:
    Owen Wilson: 'John', come back here, I'm talking to you!
    Jackie Chan: Ask me if I give a shit! *corpses*
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Chon to Lo Fong: "Adios, partner!"
  • Prepare to Die: Lo Fong to Chon at the end of the first: "Now it is time for you to die." Cue Chon's Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
  • Produce Pelting: One of the spectators when Roy and Chon are about to be hanged.
  • Pun-Based Title: Based on the classic Western High Noon.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Pei-Pei does not wish to return to the Forbidden City, as she feels she can be a more involved ambassador in the States. She ends up burning the scroll that contains the Imperial Guard's orders to bring her back as an act of finality.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Shanghai Knights shifts the setting to London.
  • Shout-Out: In the first film, before almost being hanged, the hangman says to Chon and Roy "No offense, boys.", just like in another western comedy.
    • In the first film, Roy says "I don't know karate, but I do know crazy", which is a line from the James Brown song "Payback".
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: When Lo Fong chastises Chon for his blind obedience, Chon retorts "At least I still have my honor." In response, Lo Fong holds a dagger in front of Chon, saying "Slaves have no honor.", and cuts Chon's queue off.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: At the end of the first movie, Chon's utterly silent Indian wife (from an Accidental Marriage) performs this on a babbling Roy, then delivers her only English line in the film: "Shut up, Roy; you talk too much."
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Wu Chow's favorite way of showing up, which does not amuse Rathbone one bit.
    Rathbone: MUST you keep doing that?
  • Stock Yuck
  • Sword Fight: At the climax of Shanghai Knights.
  • Taking You with Me: At the climax of Shanghai Knights, Chon Wang is clearly outmatched by Lord Rathbone, so he cuts the ropes supporting the platform they are both standing on and sends both of them through the glass face of Big Ben. Chon is caught by Roy O'Bannon, who was knocked through the same glass a little earlier.
  • This Cannot Be!: The sheriff is a little more than taken aback when Roy shoots him despite only having one bullet to the sheriff's loaded dual pistols, and through the badge no less.
    Van Cleef: How the hell did that happen?
  • Training Montage: From the first film, as Roy teaches Chon how to be a cowboy, with Kid Rock's "Cowboy" as soundtrack no less.
  • Traumatic Haircut: The first movie has Chon lose his long pony tail when Chon and Roy are captured by the princess's kidnapper, Lo Fong; he cuts Chon's hair off, knowing exactly what this means for him if he should try to return. (See the Real Life example on that page for the significance of this act.)
  • The Trope Kid: Chon is listed on a wanted poster as "The Shanghai Kid." His partner notes, "That's a really cool nickname, too." Jackie's character immediately complains that he's not really from Shanghai.
  • Tuckerization: In Shanghai Noon, Jackie Chan's character is named Chon Wang (John Wayne), and in the sequel, Shanghai Knights, Owen Wilson's character uses the name Sherlock Holmes as an alias. A nearby Arthur Conan Doyle hears the name, and likes it. While Owen Wilson's character goes by Roy O'Bannon, he reveals at the end of the first movie that he changed it from Wyatt Earp. Finally, the kid sidekick in the second film is none other than Charlie Chaplin.
  • Unexpected Successor: The second movie had an noble who was way, way far down the line of succession hatch a conspiracy to kill everybody ahead of him so he could ascend to the throne.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Shanghai Knights.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Chon and Roy.
  • Wanted Poster: Chon Wang and Roy O'Bannon find wanted posters for themselves. Guess which one has a higher reward?
  • Where Do You Think You Are?: "This isn't the East, this is the West. The sun doesn't rise here, it sets."
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Happened in Shanghai Knights, where Roy tries to sell Jackie Chan's character, a Chinese cowboy named Chon Wang (say it out loud and see who it sounds like) on the idea of the then-new "moving pictures", even going so far as to suggest "You could do your own stunts." In a slight subversion, Chon nods and replies:
    Chon: Chon Wang, movie star? It could work.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Chon losing his queue means that he can't return to China.
  • You Killed My Father: Chon uses this at the end of Knights when he plans to take Rathbone with him off of Big Ben.

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alternative title(s): Shanghai Knights; Shanghai Noon; Shanghai Knights
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