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Bams' review of
Shanghai Knights


Shanghai Knights (2003)
Rated PG-13; running time 107 minutes
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Genre: Comedy/Action
Seen at: Celebration Cinema (Lansing, Michigan)
Official site:
IMDB site:
Written by: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Directed by: David Dobkin
Cast: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong, Aidan Gillen, Aaron Johnson, Tom Fisher, Donnie Yen

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

I knew it was probably too much to ask that the followup to Shanghai Noon be as "spontaneously" good as its year 2000 predecessor. But who knew Shanghai Knights would actively reek of "if it worked once, let's try it a dozen times" desperation?

THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
It's your standard East Meets West story: the Bad Guy, Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen), kills The Father of the Good Guy, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan), now a Carson CIty Sheriff [in a town that remarkably forgets that Chon Wang is of Asian descent. Marvelously progressive, those Nevadans. But I digress] The Good Guy goes off to New York to seek the help of The Screwball Sidekick, Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) to Avenge His Father's Death.

Meanwhile, in Merry Olde London, Chon's sister (you knew he had one, right?) Chon Lin (Fan Wong) seeks vengeance of her own, stalking Rathbone, who has taken up a mysterious partnership with Disaffected Chinese Person, Wu Yip (Donnie Yen). Inevitably, all of their paths cross, as will the Chon duo and Roy's, with Scotland Yard Inspector Artie Doyle and a young street ruffneck named C. Chaplin. Boy, aren't they clever in disguising the names of these characters the way they do? Who could've ever guessed who Artie Doyle really was? Man, do I feel silly for not seeing that from a mile away. [End sarcasm].

I'm used to outtakes of Jackie Chan movies, being funny. But those outtakes being the only funny thing about that movie, is most def A Bad Thing. The movie was doomed from jump, when a painfully-telegraphed (and illogical) Jackie Fights The Keystone Cops bit sunk like a disturbed souffle, failing to draw out even a muffled snicker from our audience. Gags like this, and Owen Wilson's Witty Banter, fell flat throughout the movie. I swear, you could hear a pin drop in the theater.

It's not that the almost-50 Chan (though I thought he was much older than that) has lost an acrobatic step; indeed, he's doing things with that old body of his that people half his age would pay good money to be able to do. And like Wilson, Chan is an affable performer, one who's usually fun to watch make a complete fool of himself.

So what went wrong? That's easy: Shanghai Knights believed its own hype; and instead of the humor seeming spontaneous as it did in Shanghai Noon, here, it feels completely forced, and terribly joyless. My biggest Issue with Shanghai Knights boils down to one thing: the schtick's old. Ancient, even. It seems Jackie Chan just can't make do on a kick and a smile anymore.

I may be premature in declaring this, seeing that it's only been two recent mis-steps for Jackie (The Tuxedo, Shanghai Knights) but it's not looking good for the kid. There is no joy in Podunkville; mighty Jackie has struck out.


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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed through 2/7/03):
Bams' reviews:
Deliver Us From Eva | Shanghai Knights

Cass' reviews:
Deliver Us From Eva

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