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Shanghai Knights /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Aidan Gillen, Fan Man-Fong, Tom Fisher 

Directed by: David Dobkin 

Produced by: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Jonathan Glickman 

Written by: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar 

Distributor: Buena Vista

 

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Movie Image

Movie Image

     When watching Shanghai Knights, I noticed its obvious stupidity, terrible writing, and dumbfounded soundtrack. At times, I even wanted to leave. But the likeability of 48 year-old kung-fu star, Jackie Chan, is so great that it makes any film lively and fun. Chan doesnít do all of his own stunts anymore, because of his obvious aging, but we know that he is still ripping and roaring. The fight scenes are what save Shanghai Knights from being instantly forgettable, and turn it in to a full-fledged extravaganza. Itís dumb and silly, but is almost always, in some way, amusing to watch. Owen Wilson also loans his excellent taste in comedy to the film, which makes the utterly despicable script, funny. Wilson and Chan are one of the best pairings I have seen in recent years. Iím not sure that Knights can measure up to its predecessor, Noon, but is still a hell of a time.

     A continuum off of the first film, Shanghai Knights opens up to a unique style, that most mainstream releases are lacking. It is sensibly corny, taking on the appearance of an ancient oriental ritual, but helps us get into the mood of the show. In this clinching opener, the father of Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) is killed by the man 10th in line to be the king of England. Chon does not know of this death, because he lives far away from his familyís homeland, China. He is a sheriff in old-western Nevada. He is finally notified when a package from his sister, Chon Lin (Fann Wong), arrives in the mail, informing him of the death. The reason this man murdered Wang and Linís father was because he was the bearer of the Great Seal of China. After putting a sword through this guardianís stomach, the man was able to steal the seal. In the letter that Wang receives from Lin, it states that she is going to try to find and kill their fatherís murderer, who has made his way back to England. For the love of his family, Wang must travel there, too.

     In order to get to England, Wang must first stop in New York, to seek help from his old partner, Roy OíBannon (Owen Wilson). According to Roy, he has invested all of the money that he and Wang received in Shanghai Noon in long-term stocks and bonds. But, little did Wang know, he would come across a little surprise when visiting Roy in New York. This former cowboy, that he once knew, is now a lowly and almost broke waiter who relies on hookers to make him happy. Without the proper funds that Wang thought that he had, that would allow him to travel to England, there is almost no hope in seeking revenge on the man that painfully abolished his fatherís soul. But, relying on the stupidity of Roy, Wang and his old pal safely make their way to London by traveling as stowaways on a ship. There, they team up with Lin, and begin their quest for revenge. The poorly written dialogue, along with the airy plot, would seem unbearable. But, Chan and Wilson transform the otherwise hopeless Shanghai Knights, into an above average treat.

     The soundtrack is about the most offbeat, non-rhythmic bunching of songs I have ever heard in my life. It is not so much that the musical cuts themselves donít have taste, but combined with the onscreen action, they feel forced and extremely out of place. They are so unfitting, itís almost like watching explicitly heavy rap play in the background of an episode of Barney. We hear dance music playing during the kung-fu battles, and kung-fu music playing during dances. If the film wasnít coming from a major production studio, I wouldíve thought that the amateur team mismatched the music and the scenes, and didnít have enough time to fix their mistake before release. This problem literally becomes annoying, and again, without the incredible charm of Wilson and Chan, it wouldíve  otherwise screwed the entire movie over. Shanghai Knights is full of noticeable errors, like this one, but its funny material overpowers its flaws.

     The terrible writing is persistently annoying, but the hilarious men who mouth it make the entire film worthwhile. Jackie Chan has a certain presence that astounds me, and keeps me captivated. And despite the unsaveable Rush Hour 2, I have liked every other film heís been in (but I never saw The Tuxedo). He and Wilson share stupid lines, full of shameless sentences comprised of shaky wording, but make them very interesting with their extreme talent. Even though it has a despicable script, Shanghai Knights works with what it has, and does so fairly well. This could be referred to as another one of those big-budget, disappointing sequels, but Iíd like to appreciate what it has to offer for the moment. This is really the first film, I would recommend that anyone see in 2003. Maybe I only like it because of the incredibly dull competition. Shanghai Knights is a blend of comedy, kung-fu, and charm, which is extremely likeable when youíre watching it, but will never be remembered. The most accurate description of why I would recommend it dates back to a Buddhist philosophy. ďLive in the moment.Ē

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

 


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