Story? What story? All a movie like Shanghai Noon needs is the amazing stunt set pieces featuring kung fu superstar Jackie Chan and the drolly caffeinated ramblings of Owen Wilson (and to be sure, that's all it gets). It's a buddy comedy about Roy O'Bannon (Wilson), a minor, borderline incompetent desperado, and Chon Wang (Chan)--Roy thinks he hears (and scoffs at) the name "John Wayne"--a member of the Chinese Imperial Guard searching for a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu). They become reluctant partners in the Old West (Roy, who considers Chon his sidekick, is hurt to discover that the bounty on Wang's head is more than his own), brawling, drinking, bathing, and bonding and in general having mildly amusing adventures together, while eluding a posse and other random enemies. There's not a lot of focus to the plot or much motivation for characters to turn up where and when they do--just what was achieved by the much-discussed trek to Carson City, anyway? But Chan's inventively staged battle sequences (particularly an early one in which he uses flexible, resilient trees to best some Crow Indians) are predictable highlights. You'll wish there were more to some of them, but as with his many of other films, you'll want them on video to watch in slow-motion to see how he pulls them off. And in a potentially star- making role, Wilson's loquacious, hyper-self-conscious meanderings--he's funny even when his lines aren't--make him seem less like a character than a very amusing deconstruction of one. Chan and Wilson are entertaining together, even though they're both off in their own little worlds. Think of it as Butch Cassidy and the Shanghai Kid, and you won't be too far off. --David Kronke
You gotta be able to laugh at stuff like that. Like me in the desert. I don't hold any grudges; I laugh about it. I'm not angry at you. You just left me there with chopsticks to die. Roy, all by his lonesome, just me and the buzzards, pickin' at my head... You're a very silent man, aren't you?