Shanghai Knights

Review Date:
Director: David Dobkin
Writer: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jon Glickman
Jackie Chan as Chon Wang
Owen Wilson as Roy O’Bannon
Fann Wong as Chon Li
Roy O’Bannon and the Shanghai Kid run off to England in the 1800s to find the man who killed the latter’s father. Toss the Kid’s younger sister into the mix, a bad guy looking out for number one, another bad guy looking out for number two and a whole bunch of Brits looking for a toothbrush, and get ready to punch, kick and one-line your way out of any jam. Sound fun to you?
Some would call these types of sequels digestible “video fare” (MEN IN BLACK 2 is another example of this), if only because enough people enjoyed the first part of the series to sit through another re-acquaintance with the same characters, the same jokes, the same pace…but in a different setting. The only thing that makes this flick a touch more interesting than the original installment (which was only so-so in the first place) is the addition of yet another cute ass-kicking Asian babe who brings a little freshness to the proceedings (alright, they basically ripped off RUSH HOUR 2, but still!). Other than that, I don’t think anyone should expect anything more (or less) than SHANGHAI NOON with Jackie Chan kicking butt here and there, grabbing any element from his surroundings to smash the dumb guys (from umbrellas to revolving doors to dildos…kidding on that last one), including a scene where he’s actually dancing to “Singing in the Rain” and still kicking that ass! To be completely honest, I’m starting to get a little bored of Chan and his “shtick”, but maybe that’s just me. The fact is that he usually does entertain for the most part, and despite his English still not improving much over the years, does play off Owen Wilson pretty well, to make for a decent team. Wilson is in full-blown “buddy mode” here, and thankfully brings some required spice to a movie that plays it safe in every other possible area. For anyone looking for a “bang” opening to this film, prepare to be somewhat massaged through the first half hour, most of which had me rolling my eyes and anticipating further feces.

Fortunately, the pace picked up during the film’s much better second half, which brought about a number of funny one-liners, humorous situations (the stuff in the whorehouse was choice and the pillow fight was particularly fun), nice chemistry between the lead goofs and a babe kicking guy ass! The finale is also quite over-the-top and explosive, and despite feeling a little stretched, worked for what it was, which was a wham-bam thank you Chan! (sorry, just had to) The plotline, on the other hand, is about as lame as you can get, with no need for instructions for anyone over the age of two…months! Lamer still were the constant “name” jokes, including Charlie Chaplin, Beni Hana, Sherlock Holmes and more. They felt about as forced as you can get in a sequel. The “bad” guy, who everyone in the film apparently believed to be “good” (despite him sneering and looking as sinister as Dr. Evil in every single frame here), was also pretty boring, save for his uncanny resemblance to the dashing, younger, skinnier Alec Baldwin and his booty-munching sword jamboree vs Chanski nearing the film’s conclusion. Donnie Yen was, once more, underused in his part, as was the showdown between he and the Chan-man (tired of this yet?), which didn’t particularly impress, considering its pedigree. But overall, the film did make me laugh somewhat, smile and bone up, with a particular thank you going out to the lovely Ms. Fann Wong for that last part: you can “fan” my “wong” any day!! (sorry man, it’s late and I’m tired) Oh yeah, and I can’t forget to mention the generally entertaining outtakes at the end of the film, which once again, were…well, generally entertaining. Skip the first half hour, enjoy the rest and I dare you to remember any of it two days later.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian