Martial Arts Comedy
Shanghai Knights
Dir: David Dobkin
Star: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong, Donnie Yen
Cert / Year: 12A - PG13 / 2003
Format: DVD R1

In China's forbidden city the keeper of the imperial seal, Chon Wang's father, has been murdered and the seal (a mark of office) has been stolen. Chon (Jackie Chan) who now sheriff of Carson city receives the news from his sister, Chon Lin. He immediately sets off for England where Chon Lin has tracked the killer to. In order to reach England he needs the help of this old partner Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) who has been minding his money for him since the first film. Reunited the pair set off to avenge Chon's father, rescue his sister, and save the royal families of both China and England.

Shanghai Noon was a great movie. It's blend of comedy, cowboys, and kung fu was very entertaining, so with this sequel the hopes were high. I mean with the same writers as the original and the same superb central paring it just can't be bad can it? Or can it?

The American war of independence is about the only major conflict the Americans have ever won without the help of the British (although with King George being mad some might say we did help). Why bring that up? Well I didn't Roy O'Bannon did, in fact he takes great pleasure taunting the British with it even though it happened over a hundred years before the events of this movie. This forms just part of the Brit bashing perpetrated by Hollywood in recent years and that is very prevalent in this film. A word of advice to America, nowadays your new style colonialism has earnt you many enemies, better start being nice to us as we are about the only friends you have left.

Ok that out of the way, what about the rest of the movie? Well as ever the fight scenes are amazing. They are beautifully choreographed and superbly realized. Jackie Chan, Fann Wong, and Donnie Yen are just outstanding, although Donnie Yen is once again under used. Also on the plus side is the ever reliable Owen Wilson, as he proves yet again his mastery of comic timing, and what great chemistry he has with Jackie Chan. So far so good then.

But wait we have an annoying kid (Anakin syndrome strikes again). On the whole this character is pointless and infuriatingly bad. There's more though, as the character Artie Doyle proves to be as annoying as Jar Jar Binks. It isn't just the cringingly bad accent that Tom Fisher has strangely chosen to adopt (for heavens sake this man is meant to be English and he can't even do a convincing English accent), its the whole character. Dreadful acting apart there really was no excuse for inclusion of this foolish goon of a character in such a major part of the story.

This brings us to the crux of the problem which is the poor and lazy excuse of a story. It is inexcusable as Alfred Gough and Miles Millar wrote the excellent original. The problems are twofold. The first is that deep down this film is just a retreading of the original in a different location. Like Escape from New York compared to Escape from L.A. here the sequel is a poor copy indeed. The reasons for this include unnecessarily forced scenes (like the stupid pillow fight), the predictability as it mirrors the original, and the comedy dynamic which is tainted because Roy and Chon now are friends. Added to this is the fact that Roy's character has little to do but chase the kid instead of playing part in the action and you begin to get the idea.

The other main script problem is the total lack of invention and stereotyping of the English setting. Here is the English joke check list, The Weather, The Food, Bad Teeth, Palace guards, The Queen, yawn we've seen the same jokes (better done) many times before. I know most Americans don't know what's outside their front doors but couldn't these writers have done some research and come up with something new? And just what is it with the worthless inclusion of all these supposed real life historical characters?

Shanghai Knights is a poor sequel to a great original. Even if it's stereotyping and racism could be ignored, the story is a lame duck and the inclusion of the kid and Artie Doyle is lamentable. Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan are as usual very good, and the fights are as always superb, but this can't make up for the films faults. On the whole your time would be better spent watching the original again.


A Royal Kick In The Arse


Roy: I've just been violated by a barnyard animal, John!

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic A usuall a great picture
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Nice sounding erm sound
Features Commentary by David Dobkin
Commentary by writer
Short Featurettes called Fight Manual and Action Overload
Deleted scenes
Verdict The transfer is perfect you the extras are a little lacking.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home