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Shanghai Knights
2003 - PG-13 - 114 Mins.
Director: David Dobkin
Written By: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Donnie Yen, Aidan Gillen, Fann Wong
Review by: John Ulmer
"Shanghai Knights" opens up with a typical action fight scene. In it a Chinese woman named Li, Ling, or something like that, confronts her father, who is being attacked by a nasty British man.

Her father (or how she says it, "Fadder") is the protector of a great something-or-other. The something-or-other is what the entire film is about, but the truth is that the film really is not about anything. The something-or-other is an excuse for the film, not the other way around. And what else do you expect in a Jackie Chan film, much less a Jackie Chan sequel? People don't come to these films looking for any art other than some butt-kicking martial arts mayhem from the said man.

After "Fadder" is killed by the British man, who will hereon be referred to as the EVIL British Man, Li/Ling/Sing sends a mystery box to John Wayne (Jackie Chan), who is the sheriff of a small town out west. I think. I'm confused. I never saw the original "Shanghai Noon." Anyway, John Wayne goes and finds his old pal Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), who wasted all their gold from the first film by investing in zeppelins. "Hey, you should be glad I didn't invest in 'automobiles,'" he says. Li told John in a letter that she chased her father's killer to England, so Roy and John head off the the Evil British Man's home. There they meet Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who works at Scotland Yard, and with his help they try to chase down and defeat the killer of John's "Fadda," because the Evil British Man has a scheme to take over the crown! (Fake enthusiasm.)

"Shanghai Knights" is nowhere near as good as the original. It's lacking everything. The mystery, the intrigue, the explosions, the gunfights, the adventure, the bigger budget...well...actually...

I lie.

Because I've never seen "Shanghai Noon," "Shanghai Knights'" predecessor. I never got around to it when it came out. But as I stand here before you (actually, I'm at my computer typing on a keyboard), I can tell you that "Shanghai Knights" seems like a rip-off sequel. There's no reason for it to be there. But if you--like me, myself and I--are looking for a simple tongue-in-cheek martial arts adventure, this is the way to go.

Yes, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of humor in the film, and Chan doesn't have quite the chemistry with Owen Wilson as he did with Chris Tucker in "Rush Hour," but I really like Jackie Chan and I really like Owen Wilson, and they do have comedic chemistry. The only problem is when the film starts to drift away and forgets it's an action-comedy, and not an action-fest.

Jackie fans won't be let down. There's some major butt-whooping in this movie, and Chan the Man does it all by himself. After the somewhat disappointing 2001-2002 film "The Accidental Spy," Chan comes back in full-form with some great martial arts scenes. They are choreographed perfectly, and--as always--the credits hold in store the highlight of the entire film.

I feel that many people go to see Jackie Chan movies just to see the bloopers and "Ouch that hurt!"s at the end. Well, maybe they don't, but I look forward to the bloopers at the end just as much as I do the Jackie Chan fight scenes. "Shanghai Knights" knows this, and gives the audience what they want, but I feel that Owen Wilson--as much as I like him as an actor--didn't do much in this film, and the comedy was very watered down when compared to a "Rush Hour"-type film. But what do I know--I never saw "Shanghai Noon."

Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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