June 05, 2000 12:00 PM

Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Lucy Liu

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This appealingly goofy action comedy is the movie that last summer’s stink bomb Wild Wild West should have been. It’s a playful multicultural hoot in which East meets Old West and anything goes.

Chan, the likable Hong Kong martial arts star who has always claimed to be inspired as much by Buster Keaton as by Bruce Lee, portrays a member of the Chinese Imperial Guard who travels to Nevada from China to rescue a kidnapped princess (Liu). In America he reluctantly teams up with Wilson (Armageddon), a swaggering would-be outlaw who teaches Chan such basics of cowboy life as drawing a gun, riding a horse and gulping whiskey.

Noon is highly affable fun, taking nothing and no one seriously, as is demonstrated in a typical throw-away scene in which a settler couple spot three of Chan’s fellow Imperial Guards. “They don’t look like any Injuns I’ve ever seen,” says the wife. “That because,” replies her husband, “they’re not Injuns, woman. They’re Jews.” (PG-13)

Bottom Line: A buddy comedy with plenty of kicks

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