login | register

Shanghai Knights

A Royal Kick In The Arse  

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

The history of Jack the Ripper, the naming of Sherlock Holmes, a beginner’s guide to pillow fighting with a group of prostitutes: just a few of the things this film has to offer.

Shanghai Knights sees the reunion of Roy O’Bannon (Wilson) and Chon Wang (Chan) following on from their successful collaboration in the original Shanghai Noon.  They are reunited when Chon’s father, keeper of the seal of the Emperor of China, is murdered, resulting in their chasing the culprit as he flees to England. The script probably described the rest of the plot simply as ‘divers alarums’.

And diverse they certainly are. This is, after all, a Jackie Chan film so it’s no great surprise when his path through London seems to be crossed at every turn with all manner of unexpected dangers leading to his trademark ludicrous but highly entertaining fight scenes. 

And so on to Owen Wilson. Aquick look at his CV shows a certain flair for playing characters that are just a little eccentric, especially in his numerous comedy roles. But while Jackie Chan’s humour is all action, Wilson’s possesses a more subtle tone and it is his skilful use of irony, both visually and verbally, that complements Chan so effectively and makes the Shanghai series such an enthralling place to visit.

The script may be daft but, combined with the casting, it works. The characters and actors match so well it’s as if these were the roles that Chan and Wilson were born to perform. Your brain may tell you that events on screen are beyond the ludicrous, but the leads look so at home that it’s almost possible to believe that Owen Wilson does indeed spend his spare time dangling Jackie Chan from oversized clock faces.

Shanghai Knights is an all action comedy with fantastically overblown choreographed fight scenes, but also moments of great subtlety. It’s not ground breaking, but who cares? If you’ve seen Jackie Chan or Owen Wilson in their comedy roles before then you’ve really just wasted your time reading this review: you know exactly what the film’s going to be like and you know it’s going to be good.

Al Ellis

More Information | Back to Previous Schedule | This Season  |  BBFC Classification Guidelines

Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)
2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)