Eye For Film >> Movies >> Shanghai Knights (2003) Film Review
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
How could the Shanghai Noon team go so wrong? Admittedly, they have a new director, but the writers are the same. Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson are there and the stunts don't look stunted. Is this another example of the crew having such fun on set, they forget to share the joke with the muppets at the multiplex?
The story is far fetched, but then so was The Mummy. The acting can be terrible, it's true - worst offenders, Aidan Gillen as the villain and Thomas Fisher as a Scotland Yard detective - compensated in part by the Asian contribution - Fann Wong as Chon Wang's sister and Donnie Yen as the backup bad guy.
One of the delights of the original was following Chinese Imperial Palace guard Wang's (Chan) adventures in the Wild West and how his friendship with the cowardly outlaw Roy O'Bannon (Wilson) develops. In the sequel, there is no development.
Wang is sheriff of Carson City and O'Bannon is working as "a waiter gigolo" at a smart New York hotel, while churning out popular novels about his fictitious exploits as a Western hero. News reaches Wang from sister Lin in Peking that their father has been murdered in the Forbidden City by an English aristocrat, Lord Rathbone (Gillen), who has stolen the Imperial Seal.
Wang travels to New York, finds O'Bannon up to his neck in women and takes the next boat to Blighty, where they meet up with Lin and plan how they are going to retrieve the Seal. The arrogant Rathbone is related to Queen Vic (Gemma Jones) and, with the help of his Oriental friend Wu Chan (Yen) and a new-fangled machine gun, plots to assassinate the entire royal family.
You would have thought that this was enough to keep the entertainment racing along, even before Chan starts doing his tricks with umbrellas and ladders and a revolving door. Wang is feeling so bad about not making it up with his dad before the dastardly Lord R finished him off that he's not on good form. O'Bannon plays the careless cad with such ease that nothing bothers him. As a role for Wilson, it's peaches and cream. He doesn't have to do anything except open those lips and smile that smile.
Victorian London is as phoney as some of the accents. Famous names are flung about, as if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlie Chaplin and Jack the Ripper were rubbing shoulders in the same era. It feels like no one took any trouble with the details of the storyline, expecting to glide by on the back of Chan's skill as the maestro of stunt and Wilson's oozy blond charm.
"You have a great body," he tells Lin. "You must work out."
In 1887?Reviewed on: 03 Apr 2003