Saturday, November 22, 2003

Shanghai Knights
Review by Sombrero Grande

Shanghai Knights is a perfect example of an entirely unnecessary sequel. When I originally saw Shanghai Noon and the first Rush Hour, I enjoyed both as amusing little diversions, certainly not as possible movie franchise material, though. In the sequels, all spark of what little originality was in the first movies is gone and now poor Jackie Chan and his costars can do little else but simply “go through the motions” as the studios try to wring as much cash as possible from the movie-going public while putting forth as little effort as possible. “Well, people liked Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in the Old West so let’s take and put them in…oh…I don’t know…London maybe this time…that way we can call it Shanghai Knights! He he. Get it? ‘Knights?’ He he.”

I think Chan can be a lot of fun to watch, and Wilson can crack me up with the greatest of ease, but in Shanghai Knights the material they have to work with is so bad that I actually felt sorry for them instead of getting to enjoy their performances. The script is the most insultingly predictable trash I’ve encountered in recent memory. All the little “surprises” that the writers and filmmakers prepared for the audience throughout the film are so obvious that anyone who can’t see them coming obviously has been asleep for most of the movie. Gee, I wonder if the guy who writes the highly glorifying books about Roy O’Bannon could actually BE Roy O’Bannon? Gee, I wonder if Artie Doyle, the detective with a poorly explained ability to use deductive reasoning who says he likes writing could possibly turn out later to be Arthur Conan Doyle, eventual writer of the Sherlock Holmes novels? Gee, I wonder if the car that’s mysteriously parked in the stables, facing the door, could possibly be used to escape when the building catches on fire?

Of course, the story isn’t really important to the true Chan fans who just come to see Jackie fight. For them, good news: the fight scenes Chan choreographed for Shanghai Knights are probably the best he’s done in an American movie. They’re witty and clever, paying fun homages to Singin’ in the Rain and the Keystone Cops. Chan continues in his never-ending quest to choreograph fight scenes around every object and situation known to man, this time incorporating such things as umbrellas, fruit carts, revolving doors, book shelves and Ming vases. The fight scenes are tremendously fun in this movie, but sadly the same cannot be said for anything that comes between them. There are a few laughs, but not nearly as many as in Shanghai Noon. Most of the jokes in Shanghai Knights are on par with the jokes in the remake of The Mummy: they’re “jokes” only in the sense that they are things that, in theory, are SUPPOSED to be funny, yet, in practice, they are strikingly flat. A character asserting that something called an “automobile” will never catch on isn’t even worthy of taking the energy to produce a groan about.

Sombrero Grande’s advice: If you’re a Chan fan, go ahead and rent this but fast-forward through all the non-fight scenes.


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