Over this past weekend (January 24), Entertainmentopia was able to attend a sneak preview screening of Shanghai Knights from Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, and it turned out to be an enjoyable film that lives up to the expectations set down by it’s predecessor and previous buddy-comedy flicks.

Shanghai Knights takes place, for a majority of the movie, in ye ole England where villainous Lord Rathbone (Aiden Gillen) has conspired to steal the Imperial Seal and assassinate every member of the crown in line before him so that he can become King of England. The catch is that the protector of the Imperial Seal is Chon Wang’s (Jackie Chan) father, and when he is killed, Chon must head to England to meet his beautiful sister (Fann Wong) and avenge his father’s death. In order to get to England, Chon must find Ray O’Bannon (Owen Wilson) and get his half of the emperor’s gold they received in the first movie.

The film suffers through a very hackneyed and unoriginal plot for a better part of the movie, but most of the better jokes and amazing fight scenes make up for lame-brained story. Adding to the plus side of things is the amazingly stunning beauty of Fann Wong in the role of Chon Wang’s sister, Chon Lin. She is just not on the screen for eye candy either, she delivers some of the more memorable fight scenes throughout the course of the movie.

The film itself is full of very funny jokes, but some of them seemed very forced, and a noticeable downturn into lower realms of humor may turn off some movie goers who found the first film’s jokes more high-brow and sophisticated. The “potty-humor” is more evident this time around with jokes touching on STDs, erections, and other bodily functions, and while you won’t see any pie-humping, you do see the difference in the jokes.

Acting, for the most part, is as well done as it can be. Jackie Chan just looks tired through a better part of the movie, and Owen Wilson too. Chan may have done too many buddy movies in his lifetime, or he just may be starting to show his age, but he looks as though he is only on the set to get a paycheck and get a workout. Wilson is probably hoping that everyone doesn’t remember his escapades with Eddie Murphy in I-Spy, and plays the same basic character that he plays in every single movie he has been in (Shanghai Noon, Meet the Parents, I-Spy), he never really changes his style. To his credit, he is still very funny delivering sarcastic comments at the right time, and the right way.

The fight scenes are just as amazing as those in Shanghai Noon. The most notable are the ones that place in a London Market and on a barge near the end of the film. The final battle between Wu Yip (Donnie Yen) and Chon Wang is easily one of the coolest you will see on film this year. The experience and finesse of both Chan and Yen shows just how good they really are, and just how underused Yen was in Blade II.

Plot holes may also detract for the overall experience. During the course of the movie, O’Bannon, Lin, and Wang are put into a number of precarious positions where they are able to escape, but for some reason only Roy and Chon are shown, and Lin has vanished into the shadows. This is most noticeable when they escape from the burning barn about halfway through the movie. We know Lin mad it to the roof, but then we don’t see her till the next day. Where the hell did she go?

Overall I was very surprised how well Shanghai Knights turned out. I knew it would be a great follow-up to Shanghai Noon, but I wasn’t sure what kind of follow-up it would be. Would it rip off jokes from the first movie and just switch them around (a la Men in Black II) or would it try to invent new ways to make us laugh while keeping us watching (a la American Pie 2)? Thankfully Knights came out as one of the movies that tries new things and, for the most part, succeeds.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!