Anthony's Film Review
Shanghai Knights (2003)
The laughs continue in this hilarious sequel to the Jackie Chan kung fu Western...
The first suggestion that Shanghai Knights, the sequel to Shanghai Noon, would be funny is that they still managed to come up with a clever pun for the title. They could have called it Shanghai Noon 2, but it wouldn't work. A sequel that were to repeat the Wild West setting from the first movie would be boring, because it would be unoriginal. They did do a good job solving this problem by having the film be set in England this time. But then you can't call it Shanghai Noon 2 because now it's not in the Wild West. So by having the word "knights" in place of "nights," the title becomes a logical follow-up to Shanghai Noon and the movie has freedom to take place elsewhere.
As the movie starts, Jackie Chan as Chon Wang (rhymes with a certain Western movie legend) is the sheriff of town. He puts another outlaw behind bars, probably by using his hands without firing a single gun. One day, he finds that someone has murdered his father and needs to go to England where the killer has escaped. He doesn't go alone. Owen Wilson as Roy O'Bannon wants to tag along. He especially wants to when he finds out that Wang has a sister, probably a pretty one.
Let's put aside the action and comedy for a minute. One thing that's striking Shanghai Knights is how much less historical accuracy it has compared to its predecessor. While Shanghai Noon captured enough authenticity of Western towns, railroad workers, and Native Americans, Shanghai Knights throws it out altogether. The movie is in fact a bit funnier because of it. You will laugh at how, according to this movie, Jack the Ripper is killed by someone who knows kung fu. There are other silly moments like this that call themselves historical facts.
But the focus, of course, is that it's a Jackie Chan movie. The well-choreographed action is thrilling to watch and also downright hilarious. Jackie Chan is clearly older in this movie, but that doesn't stop him from using creative weapons in a marketplace or fighting while juggling urns without breaking a single one. Owen Wilson is funny just because he's Owen Wilson. In other words, he's a naturally silly guy who easily fits into the same scenes.
I laughed more with Shanghai Knights than with Shanghai Noon. And I mean a lot more. It maintains the chemistry between the stars and the humor that made the first one great, then adds new ways to make you laugh. Now, does that mean I want to see another sequel? Maybe. But what would the title be? Shanghai Dawn? Well, if they can figure that out, then chances are that the movie would be just as clever.
For more information about Shanghai Knights, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Shanghai Noon.