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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.09%
Worth A Look31.88%
Average: 26.09%
Pretty Bad: 10.14%
Total Crap: 5.8%

5 reviews, 39 user ratings

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Shanghai Knights
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by Erik Childress

"Horribly Directed & Edited, But I Still Enjoyed It"
3 stars

While all the money was going to Jackie Chanís partnership with Chris Tucker in a pair of Rush Hour films to the tune of over $360 million, audiences all but ignored Chanís best American effort to date. Reissues like Drunken Master 2 (aka The Legend of Drunken Master) and the fun factor of the original Rush Hour notwithstanding, Shanghai Noon was the true showcase for the martial arts master. He gets his just rewards for knowing how to throw a good kick, but his panache for comedy reminiscent of the silent masters always take a back seat. Owen Wilson was the perfect foil and the mix of martial arts, humor and western homage was a dream for anyone just looking for a great olí time out at the movies. Despite its modest box office returns, audiences are getting a second chance to rediscover this partnership. Itís a pale comparison in many respects, but its still fun and what more can you ask from Chan and Wilson.

The film opens in 1887 where returning screenwriters Alfred Gough & Miles Millar quickly dispatch of the women from the first film. Chanís Chon Wang continues to wait for Princess Pepeís return that will never come and Wilsonís Roy OíBannon has forgotten about his Indian bodyguard wife even quicker than the writers forgot about Chonís murdered uncle in part one. Dear old dad bites the bullet this time around, sending Chon and Roy to England to catch murderer Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen) before he offs the entire Royal family.

Helped along the way by the precociously annoying Charlie (Aaron Johnson) and Detective Doyle (Tom Fisher), it doesnít take a genius to sense the anachronism at work. But it would help to have a brain when deciding to crossover Chaplin and Arthur Conan in a film set in 1887. It would have been a nice touch to have the young Chaplin inspired by the antics of Jackie Chan, if the lad was born before 1889. And as a struggling author, A.C. Doyle was a doctor, not a cop and had already given Sherlock Holmes his first print appearance in 1886. Back to the Future or Forrest Gump this certainly ainít.

What it is though is a series of comic interplay between the two leads and anyone who tries to beat them up thatís as entertaining as ever. Owen Wilson is one of those personalities we wish could be in every movie. Think back on supporting roles in Meet the Parents and Zoolander and then go watch him command attention in Bottle Rocket and Shanghai Noon. His delivery on the quick can match wits with anyone in the room. Then you have Chan center stage for a half-dozen action sequences, many of them comic in tone from his Keystone Kops homage to a wonderful take on Singiní in the Rain.

Itís a shame to pepper these remarks with the fact that this is as horribly directed and edited a movie of this ilk that youíre likely to see. Harsher critics have jumped on Jackieís back for slowing down in his later years (he is, after all, 48 years old) but heís still faster than Keanu Reeves, Ben Affleck and anyone else professionally trained for their action scenes, so cut the guy a little slack.

His last efforts, including this, have found the filmmakers at a loss at how to use him properly. The Tuxedo added unneeded special effects that eliminated the magic, producing nothing but an industrial light show. And Knights director, David Dobkin (Clay Pigeons & co-writer of the Clint Howard vehicle, Ice Cream Man) coupled with editor Malcolm Campbell (Stealing Harvard, Double Take) donít have clue one at how to tighten up the abundant action sequences.

Shots linger in-between punches and Chanís signature handywork involving any movable object. Watch how long it takes for a fireworks cannon to go off or opponents move into position before Chan makes his next move. Note to American filmmakers: let Chan do what he does. Heíll make it happen and heíll make it work. All you have to do is keep up. Donít use extreme close-ups. Pull back and trust the audience. Donít give us time to see the Arthur Murray dance steps on the floor. Just move move move! Weíll keep up and those who canít will just have to watch it again and amaze ďhow did he do that?Ē

Itís very easy to go either route on something like Shanghai Knights. It is a sequel, so a laziness factor is already implied especially with such simplistic premises. But itís tractable to forego those complaints when the laughs and action maintain a smile on our faces. For those who missed Shanghai Noon and venture out for their first Chan/Wilson helping with this film may be delighted (unless Chris Tuckerís high-pitched rant screaming is your only definition of hilarity.) This may actually be your best course of action. That way you can go rent or buy the original and treat it as a superior prequel. Either way, I would still have fun with both films.

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originally posted: 02/07/03 16:57:27
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User Comments

11/14/15 Ionicera 2 stars for the movie + 1 extra for Aidan Gillen 3 stars
10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
7/04/06 Ashley Hinz Better than Shanghai Noon. 5 stars
7/28/05 Quigley the plot was bad, but the action and wilson's humor redeemed it. gotta see this movie 5 stars
7/16/05 tony Better than the first one. But still had flaws 3 stars
1/24/05 keithers.. Fun...but Chan Fans would be let down 3 stars
9/19/04 nicole alright 5 stars
5/09/04 reuben jay martin A lot of action 5 stars
4/13/04 Daniel Lowe A hilarious movie with a tonne of action, it is my al time favourite movie. 5 stars
1/29/04 stuntman A very fun film to watch 4 stars
1/01/04 Punk_Ass I was very suprised by this movie. Much better than the first. Really a fun movie 4 stars
11/26/03 jason fchan fucking great 5 stars
11/21/03 rony i was kind of let down by the plot and story, but the action sequences were great. 4 stars
9/08/03 Lauren Duggan It's a awesome movie 5 stars
8/12/03 tricia I loved it 5 stars
5/29/03 Blong It was Awesome 5 stars
4/30/03 Valerie Cameron Plot thickens when some silly boob lets them into secret room! 5 stars
4/22/03 Eloise shame HBS offers no rating lower than 1 Star. 1 stars
4/21/03 jackie chunny i too studied years in film so i must know alot,this movie rocks you pussys 5 stars
4/21/03 eddy mc murphie fucking awsome,i am a critic and could not fault this wonderful chan masterpeice 5 stars
4/13/03 Max Coakley Good 4 stars
3/20/03 Cameron Slick A silly, anachronistic mess, but the pairing of Chan and Wilson makes the movie fun. 4 stars
3/13/03 Roy Smith truth :the plot is.. pathetic, but the action and jokes are fun 4 stars
3/07/03 nick2k it was actually a fun movie. i think jackie and owen got a WORKING formula going. wheee! 4 stars
2/17/03 Suzz fun Jackie Chan film as usual 4 stars
2/17/03 stuntman one wacky adventure!! 5 stars
2/16/03 123 the plot is.. pathetic, but the action and jokes are fun 5 stars
2/12/03 KingNeutron Lots of fun, esp if you're a M.A. fan. 5 stars
2/12/03 Brian One-liners that are funny, JC fights, and they added a chick (hmm.. Rush Hour 2?). Decent. 3 stars
2/12/03 bob leather jacket Surprisingly enjoyable, hilarious and fun to watch 5 stars
2/11/03 Ubu the Ripper Not As Good As "Noon". Wait for the DVD 3 stars
2/10/03 scooby anything with jackie chan rules! 5 stars
2/10/03 Yo Mama! Not as bad as the rest make it out to be...good laughs, although a bit predictable. 4 stars
2/10/03 Darth Cunnilingus Lots of laughs, Jackie Chan delivers another winner. 5 stars
2/09/03 Large Farve Please..... make it stop...... 1 stars
2/08/03 Titus Some fun sequences, but generally not nearly as good as the first. 3 stars
2/08/03 George Jung Fuck me for watching this, fuck me up my stupid ass. 1 stars
2/08/03 Rob Just bad...honestly 2 stars
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  07-Feb-2003 (PG-13)



Directed by
  David Dobkin

Written by
  Alfred Gough
  Miles Millar

  Jackie Chan
  Owen Wilson
  Fann Wong
  Donnie Yen
  Tom Fisher
  Aidan Gillen

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