Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Fight Manual. Action Overload; Director
David Dobkin commentary; Screenwriter commentary; Deleted scenes.
THE law of diminishing returns can aptly be applied to Shanghai
Knights, an occasionally enjoyable, yet frequently tiresome sequel
to the popular Shanghai Noon.
Jackie Chan and the ever-endearing Owen Wilson successfully recapture
their chemistry from the first film, and the action scenes remain
as inspired as ever, yet too much about the rest of the film grates,
from its contrived characters to its hopelessly idiotic premise.
Picking up some time after the original left off, Shanghai Knights
finds Chans former Imperial guard-turned-sheriff, Chon Wang,
reuniting with Wilsons ex-train robber, Roy OBannon,
and travelling to London to search for the Chinese rebels who
murdered his father.
Along the way, they pick up Wangs sister, Lin (Fann Wong),
as well as a tiresome street urchin and a bumbling Scotland Yard
detective, before becoming embroiled in a plot to murder the royal
family by one of its heirs (Aidan Gillen).
While the appeal of a Jackie Chan movie seldom lies in its story
or characterisation, there are times when it feels like the film
is trying too hard to be clever, and straining to generate the
So while the Chan-Wilson partnership survives intact, and continues
to be very funny, very little else does. Writers, Alfred Gough
and Miles Millar, attempt to gain too much mileage from supposedly
ironic touches, making everyone involved a surprise historical
character - hence, the street urchin turns out to be Charlie Chaplin,
and the affable detective none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Jack the Ripper even gets a look in, but is despatched to the
Thames in the blink of an eye by Wangs high-kicking sister
in one of the more absurd moments.
Such tongue in cheek contrivances are, no doubt, designed to
be appealing, yet they eventually serve to diminish the enjoyment
of proceedings, and merely highlight the fact that the film is
too long for its own good. Which is a shame, given that the central
pairing works so well.
Wilson and Chan provide a terrific double act, the former all
laidback charm and effortless charisma, delivering his funny lines
with aplomb, and the latter as energetic as ever, benefiting,
no doubt, from the extra time afforded to him to compose his action
As such, were treated to a wonderfully-slapstick Keystone
Cops homage, with Chan athletically laying waste to a market-place
full of villains armed with only an umbrella (to the strains of
Singing In The Rain), and a couple of well-realised showdowns
with Gillens sword-wielding ultra-villain (in the clock
tower of Big Ben) as well as Hong Kong action legend, Donnie Yen.
Yet as enjoyable as such moments remain, it is the cringe inducing
tone of the rest of the film (particularly in its sickly final
third) that leaves the lasting impression, making the prospect
of a Shanghai Dawn something of a weary proposition.