out of 4
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|*Also starring: ||Aidan Gillen, Donnie Yen, Fann Wong||
Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4
This sequel to "Shanghai Noon" (2000) re-teams the odd-couple of Jackie Chan and
Owen Wilson - now coping with culture clash in Victorian England. As action
comedy begins, Chon Wang (Chan) has made an honorable transition from the
Imperial Guard in China's Forbidden City to the sheriff of Carson City, Nevada.
But when he receives word from his younger sister Lin (Fann Wong) that their
father was killed by dastardly thieves who stole the Imperial Seal, he seeks out
his con-man buddy Roy O'Bannon (Wilson) who, meanwhile, has created a
purely-fictional Wild West hero persona in pulpy dime novels. Together, they
join Lin, an accomplished kung-fu fighter, to seek revenge in London where - to
Chon's dismay - a goofy romantic chemistry sparks between Roy and Lin. The
politically ambitious villains are snobbish Lord Rathbone (Aiden Gillen), tenth
in succession to the British throne, and Wu Chan (Donnie Yen), the Emperor's
illegitimate brother. Writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (creators of TV's
"Smallville") and director David Dobkin ("Clay Pigeons") use broad comedy to
play to the strengths of both actors, giving Chan the acrobatic stunt work and
Wilson the comedic quips. Albeit replicated in Czechoslovakia, 19th-century
London is eerily convincing - with Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum and Big Ben,
plus glimpses of Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes and Queen Victoria. The retro
soundtrack rocks, complete with a nod to Gene Kelly's "Singin' in the Rain"
umbrella scene. And I suspect this lighthearted romp can overcome the box-office
title curse that befell "A Knight's Tale," "Black Knight" and "First Knight." On
the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Shanghai Knights" is a playfully comic,
fun-filled 7. Dare I say even better than the original?
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger
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