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Shanghai Knights Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 July 2003

Shanghai Knights

Touchstone Pictures
MPAA rating: PG-13
starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Donnie Yen, Aidan Gillen, Fann Wong, Tom Fisher, Aaron Johnson, Kim Chan, Gemma Jones
release year: 2003
film rating: Three-and-a-Half Stars
sound/picture: Four Stars
reviewed by: Jessica Amen

After having seen “Shanghai Noon,” the first movie with the Jackie Chan/Owen Wilson duo, and loving every minute of it, I was excited to hear of a sequel. While “Shanghai Knights” is entertaining and side-stitchingly funny at times, I am sad to say that it does not compare to the first film.

Perhaps it’s the fact that both Chan and Wilson have been in so many movies lately, with their growing popularity, which makes the movie feel substandard. Wilson’s usually funny jokes and charismatic demeanor have lost something with this film. It could be the fact that he always plays the same character in every movie he’s in, and since I am such a fan of his dry sense of humor, I have seen all of his films. But this one was a bit over the top.

As in the first film, there are jokes and references about where certain famous names and characters come from. For example, a young orphan boy that they meet later reveals his name to be Charlie Chaplin and Roy (Wilson) introduces himself as “Sherlock Homes,” which he steals from writing on a nearby clock when in need a fake name. All very cute jokes, but a bit ridiculous. Then again, if you don’t like ridiculous movies, you wouldn’t watch this one anyway.

The movie starts out in the Forbidden City in China, Wang’s (Chan) hometown, where Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen) kills Wang’s father, as Wang’s sister Lin (Fann Wong) watches in horror, and steals the Imperial Seal, which belongs to the emperor. There is a great fight scene between Rathbone’s thugs and Lin. Rathbone, tenth in line to the British royal throne, ultimately makes a deal with the heir of the Chinese emperor, which is why he steals the seal.

Wang hears of his fathers death and that his sister has traveled to London, following Rathbone. He decides to leave his job in Nevada as sheriff, which he earned in the last movie, and go to New York to find Roy and get his reward money, also a plot point from the last movie, so he can go and avenge his father’s death. However, Wang finds that Roy did not invest the money in bonds as promised, but instead blew it on drinking and women.

After another bit of fighting to escape the police (which happens throughout the movie, not necessarily provoked by anything in particular), Roy offers to accompany Wang to London on his quest, because they are friends and partners and because it’s supposed to be “ass soup” in London, according to Roy.

Once in London, they walk the streets and Roy almost gets run over by a horse and carriage, to which he responds, “You’re driving on the wrong side of the road…amateurs.” A boy they meet in the street market steals Roy’s watch and that leads to yet another fight scene, this one by far the best of the entire movie. Chan uses such props as umbrellas, an overcoat and lemons as aids against his assailants.

Due to the street market fiasco, the duo are taken to jail and later released, but only after they find out that Wang’s sister is currently jailed there as well, for attempting to murder Rathbone.

Rathbone then throws a party for all of the upper-class citizens and royalty in London. Wong and Roy disguise themselves as “Sherlock Homes” and “Maharaja of the province of Nevada.” There they find Rathbone with the Imperial seal. Mean while the boy that they met in the market has followed them and swipes the object, so now Wang and Roy must find the boy.

But first they must go stay at a brothel. No Chan/Wilson movie is complete without a stay at a brothel. However, this time Roy refrains from fooling around with the ladies because he’s now in love with Lin.

The following day Wang and Roy go out in search of the boy to get back the seal. They find him in a wax museum and finally head off to save the Royal family from total slaughter and thus are the basic premise of the film.

The costumes and sets and of course the fact that much of the movie is filmed in London make for great eye candy. The music is also particularly beautiful for a silly comedic movie, creating a soundtrack I might even consider buying on CD.

When it comes to Jackie Chan movies, no one can deny that the best part is the bloopers at the end of the film. I was hoping that an extended version of bloopers would be included on the DVD, but there are no more than accompany the theatrical release. The Special Features on the disc are entertaining but definitely not a reason to buy the DVD.

If you have a love for comedy and action, then this is a great movie for you. You can never go wrong with Jackie Chan’s shy yet hilarious demeanor, unless of course it involves Jennifer Love Hewitt. Overall, I’m glad to have this DVD in my collection and probably will pull it out watch it from time to time.

more details
sound format:
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Widescreen Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, enhanced for 16x9 TVs
aspect ratio(s):
2.35:1, Enhanced For 16x9 Televisions
special features: Audio Commentary with Director David Dobkin; Audio Commentary with Writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar; Deleted Scenes; “Fight Manual” Special Documentary with Director Dobkin and Jackie Chan; “Action Overload” (action, music and video style)
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Sony Dream Theater 5.1
receiver: Sony Dream Theater 5.1
main speakers: Sony Dream Theater 5.1
center speaker: Sony Dream Theater 5.1
rear speakers: Sony Dream Theater 5.1
monitor: 27” Daewoo Flat Screen TV

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