Shanghai Knights Movie Review

I was in the minority of critics that actually gave Jackie Chan's last buddy picture The Tuxedo a passing grade. Sure, the plot is a throwaway and as Chan's super-spy partner, Jennifer Love Hewitt is a complete miscast. But thanks to Chan's great charisma, the movie transcends its doldrums. So with Shanghai Knights, the follow up to the entertaining Shanghai Noon, I feared this buddy story would suffer from similar inadequacies.

In Knights, Chan returns as Chon Wang, who along with sidekick Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), take their latest adventure from the Wild Wild West to London, where Chon seeks to avenge the brutal slaying of his father and obtain the stolen Chinese Imperial Seal. While there, the pair teams up with Chon's much younger, hotter, and ass-kickinger sister, Lin (Fann Wong) to hunt down their father's killer, Rathbone (Aiden Gillen) and foil Rathbone's plot to assassinate the Royal family. The three certainly have their work cut out for them.

There isn't much plot to describe in Shanghai Knights because the film is a complete mess. Much of the movie's failures can be traced to the lackluster guidance of first time director David Dobkin and a weak screenplay from Noon writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. The action sequences are mediocre at best - they completely lack the energy and excitement of those in Noon. To add insult, the comedic timing between Chan and Wilson feels too forced. I'm sure this relates to the lack of material they had written for them. Wilson is not funny here and he's just as annoying in Knights as he was in his last buddy flick, I Spy. I really hoped Chan could work some of his usual magic to help the film overcome its failings, but even Chan is a little flat.

The real find in Shanghai Knights is Wong. The Singapore pop music sensation proves she has some acting talent hidden behind her good looks. Wong's action scenes are far more engaging and though I didn't count, I bet she kicked more ass than both Chan and Wilson combined. Unfortunately, the dreadful screenplay calls for a completely unnecessary romance between her and Wilson. I couldn't have cared less.

Shanghai Knights lacks the necessary elements to give it the fun and adventurous nature of its predecessor. And while Chan can usually take a bad film and turn it around into something decent, Knights is beyond any Band-Aid he can put on it. The real entertainment is found in the closing credits where the outtakes provide for much better laughs than those found in the film itself.

Bonus features on the DVD include a half hour of deleted scenes plus two commentary tracks (one from Dobkin, one from writers Gough and Millar, neither bound to knock your socks off).

How many fingers?


Shanghai Knights Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2003


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