The film, set in Neveda and other parts of the American West in the 19th century, is a juxtaposition of a western with a kung fu action film 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. It was partially filmed in the Canadian Badlands, near Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, and also near Cochrane, Alberta. A sequel, Shanghai Knights, was released in 2003.
- Princess Pei Pei: Father, is this my husband-to-be? He's a toad. If the emperor is so fond of him, why doesn't he marry him?
- Medicine Man: Don't worry, it could be worse - he could be a white guy.
- Chon Wang: I got an idea: why don't I pretend I'm sick, and then you can attack the guard when they come in?
- Roy O'Bannon: Oh, you mean the sick prisoner routine? Does that still work in China? 'Cause here it's sorta been done to death.
- Chon Wang: See! I told you!
- Roy O'Bannon: No, you said "wet shirt don't break," not "piss shirt bend bar"!
- Roy O'Bannon: Ooooh... who's the pretty lady?
- Chon Wang: That's my wife!
- Roy O'Bannon: How long you been in this country?
- Chon Wang: Four days.
- Roy O'Bannon: Nice work.
- Roy O'Bannon: [adjusting Chon's cowboy hat] There, sort of a rakish angle.
- Chon Wang: How do I look?
- Roy O'Bannon: I think you look great! I think you look like a real cowboy. Very dapper - red bandana.
[holding out his hand]
- Roy O'Bannon: Roy O'Bannon.
- Chon Wang: [shaking his hands] My name is Chon Wang.
- Roy O'Bannon: John Wayne?
- Chon Wang: Chon Wang.
- Roy O'Bannon: That's a terrible cowboy name!
- Chon Wang: Why?
- Roy O'Brannon: No, come on. That's not gonna work. That's horrible; that's so bad! And so's the ponytail!
- Marshal Nathan Van Cleef: How about that? It's a Mexican standoff. Only we ain't got no Mexicans.
- Chon Wong: He took the gold.
- Roy O'Bannon: Is that all you care about, the gold? Shame on you.
[Roy is watching Chon attempt to saddle his horse. The horse keeps pulling the saddle blanket off before Chon can get the saddle on]
- Roy O'Bannon: Well, best of luck to you. Guess this is what your people call "sayonara." Looks like Fido's giving you some problems there. You want me to, uh, give you a hand?
- Chon Wang: No, I can do it.
- Roy O'Bannon: *Sure* you can. H-How is a greenhorn like you gonna make it to Carson City and rescue this princess?
["Fido" pulls the saddle blanket off again. Roy sighs]
- Roy O'Bannon: Stop, stop, stop, stop. I can't take it anymore. Watch me do it.
[he takes the saddle blanket]
- Roy O'Bannon: You get it like this and you put it up high.
- Roy O'Bannon: See, it'll drift back when you're riding.
- Roy O'Bannon: All right, I'll do it.
- Chon Wang: Do what?
- Roy O'Bannon: Take you to Carson City, help you rescue Princess Pee Pee.
- Chon Wang: Pei Pei! You do not care about the princess.
- Roy O'Bannon: You don't know me very well, do you? Tell you one thing: I hate to think of an innocent member of Chinese nobility suffering, I'll tell you that.
- Roy O'Bannon: You people believe in Karma over there, right? Well, I've been thinking... there must be a reason why we keep running into each other. Now I've ridden with some terrible men, just people I couldn't trust, but when I look at you, there's something different about you. And I can see it, I can see it in your eyes. It's what the Indians call... chipichawa.
- Chon Wang: What's that?
- Roy O'Bannon: Chipichawa is nobility. And you have it, in spades. You got yourself a partner, and this has nothing to do with gold, okay?
[spits in his hand and offers it to Chon]
- Roy O'Bannon: Shake on it.
- Chon Wang: Why are you spitting in your hand?
- Roy O'Bannon: Well, it's, uh, customary to seal the deal. Come on, let's go.
[Chon spits into Roy's hand]
- Roy O'Bannon: No, you-
[wipes off his hand on his shirt]
- Roy O'Bannon: This is going to be a long journey.
[going to blow up the safe]
- Roy O'Bannon: Here, give me the dynamite.
[Big does and then starts to follow]
- Roy O'Bannon: No. No. You stay here! You don't get to do it.
- Roy O'Bannon: Now I'm gonna have to get rid of my outlaw name, it just won't work anymore. My real name's Wyatt Earp.
- Roy O'Bannon: Come on. We're men, we're not piñatas!
- Wallace: I was just winging it!
- Roy O'Bannon: What? No! That's not how we wing it! You've lost your "winging it" privileges!
- Roy O'Bannon: I don't know karate, but I know kar-azy, and I will use it!
[Roy is shooting wildly at Marshal Van Cleef, who is waiting calmly behind a pillar]
- Roy: Did I hit you yet?
- Van Cleef: [lighting a cigar] Nope. But you're getting really close.
[Roy fires several more shots, again missing wildly]
- Van Cleef: How do you survive out here?
- Chon Wang: What happened?
- Roy O'Bannon: Oh, nothing. I just killed him, how'd you do?
[reading a reward poster]
- Roy O'Bannon: The Shanghai kid. This is terrible!
- Chon Wang: I know. I'm not from Shanghai.
- Medicine Man: [on Peace Pipe] This is some pretty powerful shit.
- Chon Wang: You gave me bad directions!
- Roy O'Bannon: No, I gave you wrong directions.
[holds up Chon's chopsticks]
- Roy O'Bannon: Want your toothpicks back?
- Chon Wang: Fight with honor. You will win.
- Jackie Chan as Chon Wang / John Wayne (doubled by Andy Cheng and Yuen Biao)
- Owen Wilson as Roy O'Bannon / Wyatt Earp
- Lucy Liu as Princess Pei-Pei (doubled by Marny Eng)
- Brandon Merrill as Falling Leaves
- Xander Berkeley as Marshal Nathan Van Cleef
- Roger Yuan as Lo Fong
- Kate Luyben as Fifi
- Jason Connery as Calvin Andrews
- Simon R. Baker as Little Feather (doubled by Marny Eng)
- Walton Goggins as Wallace
- Henry O as Royal Interpreter
- Yu Ronggauang as Imperial Guard (as Ron Guang Yu)
- Eric Chen as Imperial Guard (as Eric Chi Cheng Chen)
- Yuen Biao as Saloon Fighter (uncredited)
- Garvin Cross (stunts)