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As I left the cinema after seeing this film I could honestly say I enjoyed it, this was no surprise. The film offered no surprises, twists or anything original to that matter. It is akin to all Jackie Chan movies, infact it would be hard to tell most apart. From Rush Hour to Shanghai Noon, this film's prequel, I have thoroughly enjoyed Chan's many contributions to the much crowded genre of martial arts movies. Kung-fu films have enjoyed great success throughout the last 30 or so years, from Bruce Lee's masterpiece 'Enter the Dragon' to the previously mentioned Rush Hour series. As a result of this they have become a sure fire hit for Hollywood studios and a new generation of martial arts stars ahve been born in the era following Bruce Lee's untimely death in the early 70's. Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat and Jackie Chan. Many have drew comparison between Chan and Lee, two masters of their trade, but altogether very different. Lee's popularity grew as did martial arts in the 70's, his style was more violent and stylised to that of Jackie Chan's. Chan masterfully uses props throughout his films to deal with his enemies. Anything seen in the normal movie environment has been used, from a cushioned footstool (Rush Hour 2) to a stall of umbrellas (Shanghai Knights). This is was makes Chan so special, every film he is in ultimately is very similar, but also so different in the manner in which he deals with his enemies advances. The film follows two very different friends, John Wang (Chan) and Roy (played by the excellent Owen Wilson) as they persue a muderer/thief in late 19th century London. The action sequences throughout the film are skillfully executed with Chan's famous style. These are what make the film excel, in one sequence Chan incarcerates an entire squadron of policemen using only revolving doors and their batons and belts. The film contains no CGI, all the stunts are done by Mr. Chan himself, the whole film
feels very genuine depite an unlikely storyline. The film as I previoulsy stated offers nothing new or groundbreaking for current audiences. It is a simple and most importantly enjoyable film that will give an hour and a half of fun for anyone as long as their expectances arent high. It does have a few drawbacks though, the storyline is clichéd and extremely predictable. It is set in Victorian London, so you can expect a lot of stereotypical British characters. The film features some anti-British sentiment. In conclusion I would thoroughly reccomend Shanghai Knights as long as you watch without expecting a groundbreaking and original movie, because that is not what this film is about.
Better than your average sequel, Shanghai Knights almost defies the law of diminishing returns. Lacking the freshness of Shanghai Noon, it compensates with a looser, disposable plot that plays to the strengths of costars Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. It's 1887, and odd-couple heroes Chon Wang (Chan) and Roy O'Bannon (Wilson) are in London to retrieve the Imperial Seal of China, stolen by an English lord (Aidan Gillen) who killed Wang's father in his quest for the British throne. Wang's lithe and lovely sister (Fann Wong) joins the battle with high-kicking force, appealing to Roy's roguish charm and surfer-dude anachronisms. While Chan continues his transition to safer stunts and good-natured homage to Buster Keaton, Gene Kelly and other Hollywood legends, Wilson indulges the party vibe to good effect, maintaining the anything-goes approach that allows silly encounters with Jack the Ripper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a Dickensian urchin named Charlie Chaplin (Chaplin wasn't born until 1889, but if the filmmakers didn't care, why should you?). --Jeff Shannon