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|Category||Comedy||Audio Commentary - Jackie Chan
(Actor), Owen Wilson (Actor), Tom Dey (Director)
Deleted Scenes (8)
Featurette - Making An Eastern Western
Featurette - Partners
Featurette - Jackie's Comedy
Featurette - Western Stunts, Eastern Style
Featurette - Hanging With Roy And The Kid
Featurette - Action Overload
Featurette - Choo Choo Boogie
Music Video - Uncle Kracker: Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
|Running Time||105:47 Minutes|
|Start Up||Language Selection then Menu|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1 384Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1 384Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||
|Macrovision||Yes||Smoking||Yes, quite hilariously|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, the usual Jackie Chan collection of bloopers just before the credits|
The film, such as it is, begins in China's Forbidden City during the year 1881, where the numerous Imperial Guards are gathered for the arrival of Princess Pei Pei (Lucy Liu). One such Imperial Guard is Chon Wang (Jackie Chan), who is generally considered to be all but useless by his fellow guards and the Emperor. Pei Pei is destined by royal tradition to marry the Emperor's cousin, who, as Pei Pei puts it, is a disgusting toad. After reading The Frog Prince with an English teacher from America named Andrews (Jason Connery), Pei Pei decides to run away to America in order to escape the prospect of marrying a fat pig. Unfortunately, this is all part of an elaborate setup by Lo Fong (Roger Yuan), a rebellious Imperial Guard who left the Forbidden City and runs a sweatshop for a railroad company. His plan is to hold the Princess for a hefty ransom, and woe betide the man who gets in his way, or tries to renegotiate with him.
Meanwhile, a trio of Imperial Guards and a Royal Interpreter (Henry O) are selected to visit America and retrieve the princess. Chon Wang, who happens to be the interpreter's nephew, insists that he go along with them, and so they begin their stateside adventure on a train in Nevada. Unfortunately, the train is robbed by Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) and his gang, one of whom kills Chon's uncle in the course of the robbery. After the robbery, Roy's gang leaves him buried up to his neck in the Nevada desert, where Chon rediscovers him and leaves him with a pair of chopsticks to dig himself out. After meeting with a tribe of Native Americans and attaining a wife who goes by the name of Falling Leaves (Brandon Merrill), Chon eventually allies with Roy in the search for the missing princess. Pursuing them are the former members of Roy's gang, a U.S.Marshal by the name of Nathan Van Cleef (Xander Berkeley), and Lo Fong's henchmen.
Okay, so it's not the greatest story ever put to paper; as a matter of fact, the story is pretty dire, which is to be expected when the writers (Miles Millar and Alfred Gough) are the same ones who penned Lethal Weapon 4. What saves this film is the acting from Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Brandon Merrill, and Lucy Liu, who all put in some memorable and hilarious performances. Owen Wilson gets the best line in the whole film ("No, you said 'wet shirt not break,' not 'piss shirt bend bar!'"), Lucy Liu makes a great heroine, and Jackie Chan is, well, Jackie Chan. 3310 users of The Internet Movie Database have given this film an average rating of 7.2, which is a good reflection of how enjoyable the film is if you don't watch it with too much in the way of expectations.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, a slight variance from the theatrical ratio of 2.40:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is very sharp, but not quite as sharp as I was expecting from such a contemporary transfer, from start to finish. The shadow detail is very good, with plenty of visible details on offer in the black parts of the picture, and there is no low-level noise.
The colour saturation is bright and vivid, with the Nevada landscape (which was actually filmed in Canada) being filled with crystal-clear shades of red, green, and blue at all times. The scenes shot in Beijing, by comparison, are quite dull and undersaturated, but this would have almost certainly been an artistic choice during the filming. The lack of bleeding or misregistration makes this an excellent disc to demonstrate DVD's profound ability to retain a film's colours.
MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer. Unfortunately, film-to-video artefacts are just enough of a problem to warrant point deductions, as aliasing is frequently present, and occasionally gets severe enough to be a slight distraction. Standout examples of aliasing occur at 03:52, 06:26, 14:16, 19:49, 32:36, 51:01, 61:16, and 78:59. The worst examples were all found within the first thirty minutes of the film, after which point things settled down to a more acceptable level. Film artefacts were so small and hard to notice most of the time that they may as well have not been there, which made the one or two large ones easier to ignore.
This disc uses the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 74:48. There is a slight pause in the ambient sounds that accompany this point in the film, so it is noticeable, but the placement is quite good.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand, within the minor limits of the Chinese actors' accents. Roger Yuan occasionally said one or two words that were a little hard to make out, and Jackie Chan takes a little getting used to if you haven't heard him speak before, but aside from these two minor caveats, the dialogue is impeccable. There were no discernible problems with audio sync.
The music in this film consists of a handful of contemporary numbers and a score by Randy Edelman, which mixes some well-imitated oriental themes with more traditional themes. The overall effect of the score is quite good, in that the oriental themes are suitably convincing, not to mention the fact that they enhance the mood of the scenes they appear in, and the traditional themes complement the story. Some of the contemporary numbers seem quite out of place, but this is a minor complaint.
The surround channels were constantly active to support the action sequences, with the sounds of axes or Sheriff badges flying through the air being well-supported by the surrounds. Most of the dialogue sequences were well-supported by the surround channels too, with the ambient sounds of rivers and other such natural wonders being well placed within the 5.1 soundfield. It all adds up to a well-balanced soundtrack that immerses the listener in the film without spoiling the illusion by using the surround channels when there's nothing in the soundtrack that requires them, which isn't all that often. The subwoofer had a whale of a time during this film, supporting the action sequences and music throughout the film without calling any specific attention to itself. With the bass-heavy nature of the oriental music in particular, the subwoofer was well-integrated into the overall mix.
The video quality is good, let down only by problems with aliasing.
The audio quality is excellent, bordering on reference quality.
The extras are comprehensive, but the featurettes
lack a certain insightful quality.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|