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Sheriff John T. Chance goes gunning for BATTLEFIELD EARTH and SHANGHAI NOON!!!

Published at: April 30, 2000, 11:54 p.m. CST by staff

Hey folks, Harry here with a new spy who'll be with us for a while giving away the skinny on films like you wouldn't believe. He came strutting into the AICN offices here in Austin with dusty drawers and rusty star upon his chest. He used our restroom and came back.. well, let's just say I said, "Hey Sheriff, you forget your pants?" Hey threw a gun down in front of me and barked, "You want that gun, pick it up. I wish you would." I liked the metal of this man and asked his business, and he wanted to sign aboard, so... without further ado, let me introduce you to Sheriff John T. Chance...

Hey there pilgrims. I'm an LA based retired lawman, who works in the industry in an advisory position I assure you. I'll be providing several reviews, at least a couple a week, so you good mannered fellars and womens can get all the word you can stand. I try not to give spoilers in my reviews, that's the coward's way out, focusing instead on the overall film and performances. I rate the flicks on a 4 boxes of popcorn scale, I know that sounds a bit limp wristed, but we lawmen like our coconut oil popped kernals straight off the stalk and buttered with frest churned butter like ma used to make. I'm open to praise and criticism. I look forward to your talkbacks you awnry palooks.

SHANGHAI NOON

I can hear the pitch now. It's RUSH HOUR in the Wild West!! Some how, some suit thought this would make a great movie. Hmm... Great isn't how I'd describe Shanghai Noon. But it isn't bad. Somewhere in that vast wide expanse of movie land in between.

So, Lucy Liu is a kidnapped princess. Jackie Chan is a guard sent to rescue her, armed with several fellow countrymen and a chest filled with gold. He's on a train, going to rescue the fair maiden, and, HOLY COW, the train's robbed. A train robbery in wild west film, who could've seen that coming? Sarcasm aside, it's a fun scene, and Luke Wilson's leading the charge. Jackie foils the plan, but he's seperated from his comrades. They soon decide to team up, but... SPOILER... Luke might have ulterior motives.

Despite plot twists that we can see coming as the opening credits roll, this is a pretty fun action flick. Chan, as always, is fantastic. So are Sammo Hung and Lui. The weakest link in the picture is Luke Wilson. It's probably his voice, his mannerisms, but I can't help but picture him as a doped up frat boy who's dropped a few many tabs and is now suffering the consequences. They should have gone the extra mile and cast Chris Tucker, who worked much better with Chan. Be warned, the best scene in the film is spoiled in the trailers, as the boys smoke a "peace pipe" with an Indian tribe. Maybe Wilson isn't so out of place after all.

Final thoughts? Great action, a sense of humor and a nice-enough cast make this above average and worth 2.5 boxes of lightly buttered, unsalted popcorn.

***

BATTLEFIELD EARTH

So we're a thousand or so years into the future. Earth has lost to the aliens in a battle lasting less than ten minutes. If only this movie could have ended our misery so quickly.

I've heard the original cut was around 140 minutes. It's now down to just under 2 hours. Maybe those twenty minutes would have salvaged this film which has more plot holes and inconsistencies than anything I've seen this year. Of course, that would be forgivable if the film would have at least had camp value. Even that is lacking in this movie, which never should have been made.

Travolta plays Terl, one of the victorious aliens who's stuck on Earth in charge of security while the planet is stripped of natural resources. You see, even though they're from a galaxy far, far away and have far superior technology, they still want gold. The only reason they want gold is because it propels what pathetic excuse f a plot there is forward.

Gold is discovered on a remote mountain where men who are a cross between the guys from Deliverance and the missing link dwell. Our hero, Johnny Goodboy Tyler is played by Barry Pepper. Pepper, although spending his life in caves, is extremely intelligent and is corralled by Travolta to help find more gold. Johnny however decides to usurp the aliens with the help of other shockingly intelligent cave dwellers, and they kick some alien ass.

The performances. Travolta, who championed this movie, is barely on par. He's done some great work lately in A Civil Action and Pulp Fiction, but here he's lost. I felt like he never got a clear grasp of his character, or maybe that's the way the part was written. Either way, he's one of the dullest bulbs in the film. Barry Pepper(Goodboy)does decent work in his first "large" role. He makes his completely unbelievable character almost likable. Forest Whittaker is woefully underused as Travolta's right hand man.

Final thoughts? Despite above average special effects and some cool action sequences, it felt like a bloated episode of "Lexx". One box of burnt popcorn. Sorry, don't get it done, dude.

Sheriff John T. Chance

Readers Talkback

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  • May 1, 2000, 12:06 a.m. CST

    This film will NOT suck due to scientolgy...but for...

    by Kincaid2

    Forget the scientology shtick. It really is NOT a focus of the film. Just some elements of Hubbards views towards 'this and that' but this is PURELY sci fi. It WILL suck because it is an uncompelling story that I could have written if I was a braindead monkey drunk out of my mind, and dislexic. SP? Look, if we cannot have a unique science fiction film that makes us WIDE EYES children that pee ourselves in glee due to the fact that we have entered a WHOLE NEW WORLD of the likes we have NEVER SEEN BEFORE...then it is truelly not worth watching...and truelly not sci fi. No need to 'hate it' or bash it due to Scientology, just don't like it after you see that this is a very simple idea of dominating aliens and good guy white guys...if that is to be the case, it will NOT be original, and MUST present something to the plate that is UNIQUE..and I have NOT seen that yet... Long live sci fi

  • May 1, 2000, 12:07 a.m. CST

    Sammo Hung?

    by poonuggets

    Sammo is in this movie? Last I heard he couldn't do it because of Martial Law. Is he in it or not? Harry, could you help me out and e-mail me a quick response?

  • May 1, 2000, 12:14 a.m. CST

    WTF Hung?

    by fazer

    I do not believe Hung is in Shanghai Noon. I heard Yuen Biao is in it. If Hung is in this movie I will run naked through my dorm....again. Harry please clear this up.

  • May 1, 2000, 12:16 a.m. CST

    Shangai Noon will kill MI2!!

    by CranialLeak

    yeah, right. I know, it's the leak in my head. It won't happen now, especially with this mediocre review. But did you expect anything different? Practically every Jackie Chan movie that I've seen reviewed, has always complained that the story lacks quality, it's predictable, but the action is "FUN"! That's how I like his movies, and that's what will get me to see it. Unfortunately, every movie that I've seen with Jackie Chan had me coming out of the theater with the same reaction. The action was awesome, but that's about it. I think Mr. Chan has me under some spell that makes me think he'll pull off a Shakespearian masterpiece someday. What a fool I am. As for Battlefield Earth, I'd have to say that I really dug the trailer, despite knowing that this movie is gonna suck. Now that I know it's gonna suck from the reviews so far (two on this site?), I can't help but feel sorry for all the lost souls who got sold on the trailer (hint: all the good parts are probably in there).

  • May 1, 2000, 12:28 a.m. CST

    Error in star of Shanghai Noon

    by Pips Orcille

    Actually, it's Owen Wilson, not Luke Wilson.

  • May 1, 2000, 12:37 a.m. CST

    You know, I almost feel sorry for Travolta...

    by Gossamer

    No, wait, maybe that's just indigestion. But, seriously, is there any good buzz ANYwhere for this film? The only positive review I've even heard of was apparently discredited right away as being the work of a Scientologist shill, which does not bode well for the future. Everything I've seen in the press about Travolta's publicity work mentions Scientology at least once. Despite John reassuring people, in apparently every interview, that BE has nothing to do with Scientology, the cult's critics are already thrashing it wherever they can. Therefore, I wonder if every positive word on it before it comes out will be dismissed as Scientology propaganda? So, gee, if all the positive stuff is lies, that must mean the negative stuff is all true... Hee hee hee. Poor, poor John.

  • May 1, 2000, 12:56 a.m. CST

    First off, the excellent OWEN Wilson is in "Shanghai Noon." Also

    by Alexandra DuPont

    ... I do believe Talk Back may have the novel side effect of being sort of Scientologist-proof -- because in this venue, no matter how many of those harassing, money-grubbing cultists post their variations on "You're all FAGGOTS who are getting THERAPY from PSYCHOANALYSTS!!!! You reviewers and pathetic fanboys are IDIOTS!!! BATTLEFIELD EARTH will ROCK!!!" the fanboys and -girls can rise up and post an equal number of responses. It makes media manipulation, the Scientologists' stock in trade, MUCH more difficult. I actually do have a couple of legitimate queries for the disciples of Mr. Hubbard, however, and I'd actually like to see them answered in this forum: (1) Why do all you "Battlefield Earth" apologists use the same epithet -- namely, a variation on "faggot"? Is that the only curse word you're allowed or something? (2) How does it feel to know that the deepest, darkest "truth" of your religion is essentially a very expensive-to-read piece of fan fiction? And (3) Why, if you fellows are so much smarter than us, do you resort to the most crass name-calling as your highest form of counter-attack? Wouldn't an intelligent defense of the book/film be more persuasive. As for the film, I'll withhold judgment until it's out, but it DOES sound awfully silly. "Clear"ly yours, A.DuP.

  • May 1, 2000, 12:58 a.m. CST

    Shanghai Noon Trailer - Does it give it all away?

    by Wesley Snipes

    I'm worried that the full Shanghai Noon trailer gives away all the best parts. That trailer is FUNNY. It'll be amazing if they have even more comedy bits in the final product.

  • May 1, 2000, 1:02 a.m. CST

    What? No "Battlefield Earth" Terl look-alike contest?

    by MovieCrypt

    Jackie Chan movies are worth the pirce of admission watching the outtakes after the film screwing up all the cool stuff we just watched him do, so we consider a Chan Western a must see. "Battlefield Earth," however, is poised to be the best comedy of the summer. Be sure to bring your rice and toast and come dressed as your favorite Psychlo. The Undead have spoken.

  • May 1, 2000, 1:28 a.m. CST

    To stormbringer: Want more?

    by xenu

    Want more stuff Pro-/Anti-Co$? Here is a Realvideo: Bryant Gumbel (CBS) in an interview with the president of Scientology Heber Jentzsch. Coverage about Lisa McPherson. But you can watch only the interview if you like: Heber Erupts! Because it is so classic...here is the live segment of Heber going nuts so you can enjoy it over and over and over again. http://www.xenutv.com/us/publiceye.htm

  • May 1, 2000, 1:37 a.m. CST

    sheesh

    by Sooperdoodadam

    others have pointed it out already, but just to rub it in. owen, not luke, you dumb bastard. if you're going to be a hot shot reviewer for AICN (which i sure wouldn't want to be), at least get the actors straight. sheesh.

  • May 1, 2000, 2:10 a.m. CST

    battlefield was doomed

    by brush420

    Sounds like they followed the book somewhat. And since its very poorly written you get a bad movie. Gold is rare all over the universe in the book. And Ker (Forrest) isn't supposed to be Terl's (Travolta) partner at all. And in the book the humans are too damn smart as well, learning machine or no.

  • May 1, 2000, 5:28 a.m. CST

    "Battlefield Earth" smells like a total skunkfest.

    by Cereal Killer

    BE can never escape the taint of Scientology since everyone knows it was written by Hubbard and that Travolta is Scientology's main apologist. He can try to distance the movie from the church all he likes but it ain't gonna work. This wouldn't make that much difference if the movie were good but all indications are that it will reek. I agree with the poster who said the main story lacks imagination. The story of an evil alien race who conquers Earth and is later defeated by a band of hearty humans is one of the first stories that any kid who tries his hand at writing sci-fi tackles. That and the story of exploring a new planet are the two main sci-fi stories around. To make either one work you have to introduce something extra special. I don't get the idea that these Psychlos are interested in gold. Wouldn't an alien race have an alien method of commerce? Why wouldn't they value something other than what we Earthlings value? Is there some technological reason why they need gold? Does anyone else find it odd that every society in human history has valued gold? Why? It has little value as a useable metal since it's too maleable to use for tools. It's pretty but so are lots of other, less valuable metals. I don't get it.

  • May 1, 2000, 8:12 a.m. CST

    Actually Alexandra...

    by Duke

    the last time that I posted a negative comment about Mr. Travolta/Scientology, I received an e-mail calling me a "dum (sic) ass." So they DO have a slight degree of variety in their name-calling regimen.

  • May 1, 2000, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Now if...

    by Redbeard_NV

    the Church of Scientology sends it's members to bookstores to buy copies of Dianetics in order to keep it on best seller lists, will they also go out to every movie theater to buy tix to BE to boost it's box office, even though they won't make a dime on it (except of course, John's willingness to sign over his paycheck and points!)?

  • May 1, 2000, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Sammo Hung is NOT in Shanghai Noon!!!

    by Dagan

    This is the truth... I'm wondering about the legitamacy of this review... And also, it's not LUKE Wilson, it's Owen Wilson.

  • May 1, 2000, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Review is very suspect...

    by Dagan

    The Shanghai Noon review seems a bit suspect. I'm not totally ignoring it, but you've gotta think about a few things: First off, there's nothing in the review that isn't in the trailer - a trailer that's been playing in theaters for a few weeks now, and is now on the net. Also, the reviewer says that Sammo Hung is in the film and he's definitely NOT. And finally, the reviewer shows exactly what he knows by repeatedly identifying Owen Wilson as his brother, Luke... This guy doesn't seem too reliable. Even if he is, the review's actually pretty good - says it's very fun to watch... But then again, you can tell it's fun to watch just by looking at the trailer and the fact that they're already preparing sequals for the flick - a non-franchise film with no connection to any other media like a TV show or a comic book... That says alot about Touchstone's confidence in the film, not to mention they moved it up to Memorial Day...

  • May 1, 2000, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Sammo Hung

    by TNMC

    I have it on very good authority that Sammo Hung is absolutely not in this movie. He was briefly rumored to be involved but scheduling wouldn't permit it.

  • May 2, 2000, 1:50 a.m. CST

    is it just me or...

    by die_harry_die

    ...the only people who still thinks jackie chan is "fun" are white people. no offense. his shit got old after mister nice guy. i guess maybe it's because i've been along for the chan ride since his hong kong (re: good movies) days. anyway, you white folks go ahead and keep liking jackie. me, i'm waiting for him to break his neck in one of his dumb stunts. gotta happen sooner or later... no offense, jackie.

  • May 2, 2000, 2:07 a.m. CST

    I was on the crew of SN and...

    by Braun

    First of all... Samo Hung was not in Shanghai Noon... At least not on the Canada shoot... Maybe the few days they shot in China... But I doubt it. And it's Owen Wilson in the pic, not his bro Luke... And no, the trailor does not give absolutely anything away... I read the script intensively as I did a revision breakdown on it... I was pleasently surprized by the trailor... I have also seen 5 or six (can't remember, it was a few months ago) rough cut scenes from SN and this movie is ROCK SOLID and WIll kick some major ass this summer... Oh, and Owen Wilson is VERY funny... Trust me, this movie will be pretty damn cool !! 'Nuff said... Braun out.