Despite trying to keep his swashbuckling to a minimum, a threat to California's pending statehood causes the adventure-loving Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) -- and his wife, Elena (Zeta-Jones) -- to take action.
When a Chinese rebel murders Chon's estranged father and escapes to England, Chon and Roy make their way to London with revenge on their minds. Chon's sister, Lin, has the same idea, and uncovers a worldwide conspiracy to murder the royal family but almost no one will believe her. Written by
Fresh out after his box-office bomb The Tuxedo, Jackie Chan is back, again playing the role of Chon Wang. In this sequel to Shanghai Noon, Wang and Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) are in different parts of the country: Chon in Nevada, Roy in New York. However, after Chon's father is killed by Lord Rathbone (Aidan Gillen), he must go to London to find Rathbone to avenge the death of the father. Along the way, Chon's sister Lin (Fann Wong) comes in. Guess who is smitten by her?
Another reason why Chon has to kill Rathbone is that he has a sacred Seal of the Emperor. That's just thrown in to make the plot make more sense. Mucho fight scenes and hilarity ensues.
Chan does better in buddy action comedies like this, instead of straight action. He's noted for using props around him in his fight scenes; this movie is no exception. Chan just takes any old prop he sees and does, what looks like, improv. It's hard to imagine all of these scenes choreographed perfectly; they seem so slipshod (in a good way). All of the fight scenes have Chan's usual charm and wit, you can't help but smile whenever he does seemingly impossible stunts.
Many of the characters were one-dimensional. Rathbone doesn't really have any depth, except that everyone likes him. However, in movies like this, you don't really need twists and turns. Lin's beautiful, but what is her background? Someone working for Rathbone has no depth whatsoever and just pops in. And, of course, there's the little pickpocket (Aaron Johnson) whose name is quite funny. He just comes and goes.
The opening credits were almost exactly like the ones for Shanghai Noon, with sweeps over Chinese letters. Something I enjoyed was how they incorporated famous figures, though a little bit goes a long way. About halfway through, it takes one of those obligatory buddy turns, where they end up hating each other. However, this time, the roles are reversed from Shanghai Noon and it lasts for about two minutes, which leaves you wondering why it was even put in. They took the cliché light-heartedly. At times, it did get heavy-handed (especially at the beginning), but managed to pull through.
The sets were very authentic. Unlike the first, where they could just use cheap facades, they had to create a whole new world, and they did so. You could really believe that the clan was in England. I also liked the transitions in between scenes. They were all `swishes', but as the movie progressed and got more `complex', so did the transitions, from going out on both sides to diagonal. It may seem rather juvenile to put it in, and even more so to mention it, but I thought they were quite cool.
I do wish, however, that they had spent more time in the West. If they had had more about the horse from the first one (also, whatever happened to Chon's wife, Falling Leaves?), it would have been better. However, it almost immediately left the West for the East. Like The Tuxedo, Chan allows himself to be pushed around and beaten.
Chan is great, as usual. He's a great diversion from the real life. He can make us believe that what is done can be done. Technically, he can, because he does his own stunts. Wilson is in top comedic form here, as usual, also. He's quickly becoming an item in Hollywood, and his name's getting out there. Then again, he did do I Spy.
I laughed a lot during Shanghai Knights. Many came from the fight scenes, and others were from Wilson's one-liners. I love how the writers can merge action and comedy seamlessly. I hope for a Shanghai Five, where they go to Hawaii, or some sequel, since this franchise is going somewhere.
My rating: 7.5/10
Rated PG-13 for action violence and sexual content.
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