Friday, 6 March 2009

Movie Review - Shanghai Knights

I went into this movie rather blind as I’ve never seen the prequel, Shanghai Noon. (As we Brits are a bit behind in the movie stakes I saw it in the cinema quite recently, not on DVD). But now that I’ve seen this, I want to see that. But however good that is, it will be hard pushed to beat this. I will thus end my excessive use of pronouns and begin the review proper.

If you like to laugh, you will like this film. It’s as simple as that. Everything in it is so gloriously over the top you just find yourself helpless with laughter on a regular basis. (And whatever you do, don’t miss the outtakes at the end – they had me literally crying with laughter. Didn’t help my asthma too much though, I was having great difficulty breathing by the end of it!!!!!! :-O )

The plot revolves around a sacred thingamabob being stolen from China, Chon Wang(Jackie Chan)’s sister Lin (Fann Wong) going to recover it (oh and avenge daddy’s death too), Mr Chan himself getting a letter about it and, being the son, feeling it his duty to recover the item himself, and teaming up with his old pal, the dubious hero from the first movie, Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson). Who turns out to have squandered all the money they earned from their adventures in the first film. And guess where the villains have headed? Sunny old England, London to be precise.

One of the great things about the film is the fight scenes. Jackie Chan is famous for choreographing his own fight scenes, and the ones in this film (not being a great follower of JC I wouldn’t know how they compare to his other films) are wonderfully OTT and full of surprises. The plot runs along nicely, involving evil English aristocracy, a plan to take the thrown, and culminating in an epic duel in Big Ben. Numerous historical characters turn up along the way, some immediately obvious and some only becoming so at the end of the film.

Another great thing is the way that the actors, particularly Chan, Wilson, and Wong ( who does well and has good comic timing to compliment the dynamic duo – it was nice to see that she had something to do in the film other than merely looking pretty), really do give the impression that they’re enjoying themselves immensely. I honestly think they did, too. Whereas Matrix Reloaded falls down so badly to a large extent because it takes itself too seriously, Shanghai Knights owes much of its success to not taking itself seriously at all. The whole thing is simply there to make you laugh, and it does a very good job of that.

Another thing I particularly liked was the way that (through Wilson’s character) the film delivers a biting satire of English pomposity and American Arrogance at the same time. While telling the English what the Americans don’t like about them, he shows all the characteristics we English don’t like about the Americans. (This is a generalisation guys – the English and Americans like each other really, they just like to slag each other off from time to time). It’s brilliantly done, and in such a way that neither nationality could really be offended – well, depending who it is, maybe both sides would get on their high horses and be upset. You just can’t help some people.

Er… oh yes, I was doing a film review here. Well, to sum up: the acting is good and the comedy is spot on, action set-pieces are fun, you’ll laugh, and laugh, and laugh… unless of course you have no sense of humour. But if you haven’t, it’s unlikely that you’ll have put up with my reviewing style for long so you won’t be reading this.

See Also:

CaptainD's Top Ten Films of 2003

[PS - I have now seen Shanghai Noon as well, and it's also very good (review coming on this blog soonish... before you know it, in fact). While I think Shanghai Noon has more clever humour, I still find Shanghai Knights somehow funnier in a crazy way. I love both films however!]

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