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Shanghai Knights – Review June 16, 2009

Posted by Cello in Domestic Film Reviews.
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Shanghai Knights is the sequel to 2000’s Shanghai Noon. Yet again we’re taken back to the 1880s, where trouble’s a-brewing in China. Although it might not quite measure up to Chan’s claim of quintuple the quality, it is one of those rare multiplex delights: A sequel that bests its predecessor in nearly every way. The guardian of the Imperial Seal and his daughter are viciously attacked during the theft of the Seal. The guardian is killed and the daughter Chon Lin is determined to avenge his death. She travels to England to pursue the killer, Lord Rathbone, who is tenth in line to the throne of England. Rathbone has plotted with the Emperor’s brother, Wu Chan, to kill the nine members of the Royal family who are in line before him in exchange for the Seal which will give power to Wu Chan.

Director Dobkin knows his stars’ strengths and has a sense of comedic timing that allows each of them off their leashes in exactly the right moments. Chan’s incredible gift for action sequences and physical comedy melded perfectly with Owen Wilson’s oddball, slightly snotty, hippie persona. Loving Jackie Chan has always been easy, which is why it would be nice if he could find better material in which to bask in his long-sought American stardom or, alternately, ease into bad movies as effortlessly as his co-star.

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Wilson steals each of his scenes and provides plenty of laughs, and there’s plenty of action to keep things moving along – although most of Chan’s fight scenes look more like dance routines. Watching him work, watching he and Owen play off one another is an involving experience. To be distracted from that by such horribly constructed and unevenly placed music is the worst of carnal sins. The Soundtrack is just awful. That aside, Chan seems to have been liberated enough to get as silly as he wants with his routines, and the results are dynamic.

Moving the action to 1880s London gives the film a uniqueness that puts it above the standard Western flavor of the original, and also gives Wilson a plethora of opportunities to make fun of the Brits. Continuing to further his claim as one of the best comic sidekicks in the business, Wilson’s comments never fail to bring a smile to your face. In short, if you enjoyed Shanghai Noon, then you’re certain to enjoy this – as an undemanding action comedy it delivers on all fronts and is definitely worth watching. Jackie Chan himself was quoted as saying this sequel was 5 times better than the original, and I agree with him.
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