The Bottom Line: Not a bad diversion and Chan and Wilson make a great team.
The buddy comedy film has its roots buried deeply into the Hollywood historical archives. One need look no further than the classic Road movies of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope to see that even in the Golden Age of Hollywood, this formula was a proven winner.
Through the ages the buddy formula has morphed from comedies to become more a stable of cop and action films to the point where audiences feel like they have seen it all before as there has been little new brought to the genre since the surprise twist in To Live and Die In LA as rising budgets have caused producers and studios to take the safe, yet predictable route in filmmaking.
That is not to say that predictable can be a bad thing. As a good story with well-matched leads, ala Gibson and Glover in the Lethal Weapon series, a huge hit at the box office and many successful sequels can follow.
With the box office success of Shanghai Noon the folks at Disney were eager to reunite martial arts superstar Jackie Chan with rising star Owen Wilson for more adventures in the old west. Naturally the two actors schedules had to be taken into account as Chan had Rush Hour 2 and The Tuxedo slated for completion and Wilson had Behind Enemy Lines and I-Spy to complete. Eventually the two stars were able to reunite and provide the further tales of Chinese Imperial Guard Chon Wang (Chan) and hustler Roy OBannon (Wilson).
At the start of the Film, Wang is the sheriff of Carson Nevada, while Roy is living the life of a playboy in New York, coasting on the fame he has garnered by a series of fictional novels about his exploits with the Shanghai Kid in the last film. The fact that the stories are complete nonsense and worst of all, relegate him to sidekick status are a constant irritant to Chon.
The focus of the story is on Chon and Roy reuniting to travel to London in an effort to retrieve the stolen Emperors seal from those that stole it, as well as avenging the death of Chons father by those who stole the seal. Along the way the duo teams up with Chons sister Lin (Fann Wong), and take on an assortment of bad guys who are bent on seizing power in both China and England, and changing the course of history. Along the way the trio encounter a myriad of characters whos names and places in history will delight fans once they are revealed but whose identities I will keep secret in this review.
The action of the film is solid as Chans trademark moves are brilliantly staged setup. His tribute to Singing in the Rain was brilliant and generated solid applause from members of the audience who were able to understand the reference. Wilson is funny in his portrayal of Roy as the hustler with a heart of gold that finds himself not only fighting for the greater good, but also falling for Lin and facing dilemma about the direction of his life as well as his past. Adian Gillen gives a good performance as the villain Rathbone, as he oozes an upper class smugness that does not conceal his menace. I was reminded of the fantastic performance of Jason Isaacs in The Patriot in his performance as he took what was for all intents and purposes a stock villain and made him stand out. Lin was also a welcome addition to the cast as her slightness and beauty only added to her appeal as she mixed it up with the boys on equal terms and displayed more then a few amazing martial arts moves showing that she is a face to watch for in the future.
My biggest fault with the film and it is minor was that many of the references and terms Roy utters in the film would not have been used in 1888 as not only where many of them not in the vernacular of the time, but also not phrases or ideas that people of a less enlightened time would use. Still, that and the use of vintage modern-age music in the soundtrack did little to detract from what was an enjoyable film, and Chan and Wilson made and enjoyable team once again. If the ending of the film is any clue then a third outing in the series may be in the cards and that might not be such a bad thing.
3 stars out of 5
Gareth Von Kallenbach
SKNR.Net International Association of Film Critics. firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting the most out of Shanghai Knights involves ignoring a few bad storytelling tropes which are played all the up to eleven: The martial artist going out to avenge his dead father, the whole younger sibling/older sibling dynamic, and a precocious little scamp of a kid you just want to fucking smack. Let's face it, though: Anyone who watches Shanghai Knights isn't doing it for its pristine storytelling. They're watching it because Jackie Chan is one of those unique people … more
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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In this entertaining sequel to SHANGHAI NOON, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) and Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) are reunited on an adventure that leads them to Great Britain. Upon hearing of his father's murder in China at the hands of Englishman Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen), Wang leaves his law-enforcing life in Nevada and heads east. In New York City, he tracks down Roy, who now works as a waiter/gigolo. After a close encounter with New York's finest, Wang and Roy travel to London, where they team up with Wang's sister, Lin (Fann Wong), also out to avenge their father's death. Their search uncovers a plot to assassinate the royal family and brings them into contact with many touchstones of turn-of-the-20th-century British culture. <br> <br> A fitting follow-up to Chan and Wilson's first pairing, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS takes the fish-out-of-water element of the original and doubles it, as both Wang and Roy navigate the highs and lows of Victorian London. Chan, as always, astounds with a series of acrobatic fight sequen...