Retro Review: Shanghai Knights

He has braved the feudalism of the Old West, the fast-jawed flares of the loudest mouth in Hollywood, and pulled on a “super-tux” so he could star opposite a starlet.

What else in the world has Jackie Chan got left to do? Why not save Queen Victoria in 1830s London?

In the sequel to the buddy-comedy western Shanghai Noon, we find new sheriff Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) finding out that his father has been killed and that his little sister has ended up in London, England while pursuing the killer. Wang plots his journey to the Old World and seeks out his old friend Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson) to accompany him. Who killed Wang’s father and what has he to gain by doing so? Is Chon Wang’s little sister Chon Lin (Fann Wong) up to this challenge?

If you love Owen Wilson or Jackie Chan, then this film will be utter heaven. Their chemistry is flawless as they pick up right where they left off in the previous film. In some ways I like the teaming of Wilson and Chan a lot more then the teaming of Chan and Tucker in the Rush Hour flicks. I think that has a lot to do with how much I enjoy Owen Wilson’s style of comedy. It just has the uncanny ability to make me howl with glee.

It will be very interesting to see how this movie plays in jolly old England. A lot of the jokes in the film poke fun at the British. Most is very stereotypical and quite off the cuff. The humor reminded a lot of the John Goodman comedy, King Ralph.

During their escapades through England, the duo bump into such classic historical figures as Queen Victoria, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack the Ripper, Charlie Chaplin. I really enjoyed how comically the historical characters were inserted but the whole Jack the Ripper scene was probably the funniest of all.

Director David Dobkin turns Jackie’s kung-fu scenes into a sort of vaudeville show, which does tease the funny bone but was it really necessary.

I like Chan’s multi-use fight scenes and it was kind of weird seeing them reduced to such a corny looking sideshow. In the previous film they went straight with the fight scenes. I found that they really tried way to hard in this film to find goofy and corny things for these guys to get mixed up in.

I love the stars and there are some really funny moments but the filmmakers should know when to play for the laughs and when to play it straight.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

Written: January 26, 2003

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