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Shanghai Knights Review

By Shawn McKenzie 02/07/2003

In 2000, I went to see Shanghai Noon with my mother.  She liked Jackie Chan and thought it would be a fun movie to see.  We were both impressed with the movie, because it was an original concept (and my mom thought Owen Wilson was a cutie.)  Sure, martial arts have been employed in Westerns before, most famously in the ‘70s TV series “Kung Fu,” but Noon added the elements of humor and fun to it.  When I got passes to the sequel, Shanghai Knights, my mother was the first person I thought of to take her to it, mainly to see if she would have the same reaction.  I do believe we had slightly different reactions to it.


Some time has passed since the adventures of Roy O’Bannon (Wilson) and Chon Wang, a.k.a. The Shanghai Kid (Chan), occurred.  Chon is the sheriff of Carson City, Nevada now, and he hopes daily that Princess Pei Pei will return to him.  One day he gets word from his sister, Chon Lin (Fann Wong), that some Chinese rebels have murdered their father (Kim Chan), the keeper of the Imperial Seal.  Lin discovers that a British big-wig, Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen), is behind the murder in order to hatch a plan to ascend to the British throne, and she vows revenge on him.  Before he dies, their father asks her to send Chon a puzzle box.  When Chon receives the box back in Carson City, he decides to avenge his father’s death as well.  He needs money to get to England, so he travels to New York, where his old buddy Roy is living now.  Chon wants to get some of the money they had earned in the first movie.  Roy was supposed to be investing Chon’s share for him, but instead he had financed a run of books depicting the Western hero Roy O’Bannon and his sidekick, The Shanghai Kid.  Apparently, they didn’t do so well, because the money is gone, and Chon finds Roy working as a waiter in the Ritz Hotel.  Together again, they find a ride to England, and are immediately in trouble after being robbed by a street urchin named Charlie (Aaron Johnson.)  In the attempt to get their property back from him, they get in a big fight, which lands them in jail.  They find Lin there, who has been arrested for attempting to murder Rathbone, and once they get out of jail, they tell her that they will try to get her out.  They hook up with Det. Artie Doyle (Tom Fisher) of Scotland Yard in order to expose Rathbone’s evil plan and spring Lin out of jail.  At the same time, Chon tries to keep his smitten sister away from the scoundrel Roy, with limited success.


My mom loved this movie.  In fact, she told me that she liked it better than the first one.  I liked it too, but not as much as the first one.  The only thing I can chalk it up to is that the idea was no longer original to me.  Don’t get me wrong; it was a fun movie, but I was hoping the story would be a little more fresh.


The action, of course, was amazing, like all Jackie Chan movies.  There is a scene where Chan fights with an umbrella that reminded me of Singin’ in the Rain (imagine Gene Kelly kicking some butt instead of dancing around and singing!)  A scene near the end of the movie involving Big Ben might make some people with acrophobia a little nervous.


The humor, while mostly funny, was sometimes a little too easy and obvious.  There were plenty of British jokes, like the Buckingham Guards’ job description and the gross British food with wacky names.  Also there were plenty of celebrity “cameos,” like Jack the Ripper and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Being a continuity nut, found the cameos a little hard to swallow, since Doyle had never been a detective, and Jack the Ripper committed his crimes in the late 1880’s, a good 20-plus years before the Model T Ford automobile featured in the movie existed.  Here I go again, being nitpicky…this isn’t a history documentary after all!


In the end, I don’t know why my mother liked Shanghai Knights better than the first one.  Maybe it was because it was fresh in her mind and she hadn’t seen a fun action movie in the theater in a while (she doesn’t get to the theater quite as often as I do.)  As for me, I recommend the movie, especially if you liked the first one, but don’t expect a whole lot of freshness.  I am not going to let the continuity errors effect my rating, but while it was a cool movie with decent laughs and amazing action, I just can’t give it the highest kudos, or at least not as much as the first movie.  Now maybe if they had added a time machine to the story…

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