Shanghai Knights

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Shanghai Knights
Shanghai knights.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Dobkin
Produced by Jackie Chan
Gary Barber
Roger Birnbaum
Written by Alfred Gough
Miles Millar
Starring Jackie Chan
Owen Wilson
Donnie Yen
Fann Wong
Aidan Gillen
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Edited by Malcolm Campbell
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • February 7, 2003 (2003-02-07)
Running time 114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Cantonese[1]
Budget $50 million
Box office $88,323,487

Shanghai Knights is a 2003 action-comedy film. It is the sequel to Shanghai Noon. It was directed by David Dobkin and written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

Plot[edit]

The film opens in the Forbidden City in 1887, where Chon Lin (Fann Wong) is drinking tea with her father (Kim Chan), the Keeper of the Imperial Seal of China. She tells him her brother, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan), is doing well as a sheriff in Carson City, Nevada, United States, but her father replies that her brother is dead to him. At that moment, Lord Nelson Rathbone (Aidan Gillen), leads a band of Boxers into the city, who attack the Keeper. Rathbone stabs him and leaves with the seal. As he lies dying, he gives Lin a puzzle box and a letter to Chon Wang.

Back in the Wild West, Chon Wang is doing well as sheriff, having captured an impressive array of fugitives. His deputy is relaxing with a book called "Roy O'Bannon Vs. The Mummy", a highly fictionalized account of the events of the first film that now portrays Wang's "Shanghai Kid" as a cowardly sidekick.

Wang receives a parcel, which contains the puzzle box and Lin's letter, telling him their father is dead and that she has tracked the murderer to London.

Chon Wang travels to New York City to find his old partner Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson), needing his share of the gold left over from the first film to buy his ticket. Roy has left his brief stint in law enforcement, broken off his romance with Falling Leaves, spent most of the gold investing in the Zeppelin, and is now a hotel waiter and part-time gigolo. After they attempt prostitution to pay for a trip to England, the Mayor of New York arrives in search of his daughters, Roy's latest clients. Chon Wang fights off a number of New York police officers, and he and Roy ship themselves to London in a crate. On the way, Wang tells Roy about his father, and Roy swears an oath to help reclaim the seal.

During a meeting with the British Parliament, Rathbone gives word of trouble going on in China and even presents a gift to the Queen from the Emperor as a Bengal Tiger. The Parliament find this action appalling and insulting.

In London, Wang and O'Bannon have their duster and watch stolen, respectively, by a number of street thugs including a young boy named Charlie (Aaron Johnson). After an extensive battle to reclaim these items, they are arrested by the police. In Scotland Yard, Inspector Artie Doyle (Thomas Fisher) thanks the two for defeating the Fleet Street gang and gives Roy his watch that Charlie had stolen. He tells Wang that Lin is also in Scotland Yard, having attempted to kill Lord Rathbone and been dubbed "Looney Lin". Doyle is a reader of the Roy O'Bannon novels, and is enthralled to meet the actual Roy O'Bannon. Roy tries to use this to get Lin released, but it does not work. Meanwhile, Rathbone finds himself not alone in his carriage as Wu Chow (Donnie Yen) sneaks his way on and the two exchange a quick conversation and Rathbone slips him the dagger that killed the Keeper of the Imperial Seal. Sometime later, Roy and Wang wander through London, seeing Buckingham Palace. They encounter Charlie, who lets them into the empty house of a nobleman. Charlie brings it to their attention that the nobleman has an invitation to a gala at the castle.

Roy and Wang don disguises: Roy masquerades as Major General "Sherlock Holmes" (a name he derives from the face of a clock), and Wang is the "Maharaja of Nevada". After turning down the offer to try some spotted dick, Wang and Roy follow Lord Rathbone to a private library. Once they enter, they cannot find him; he has slipped through a secret passage, which Wang discovers in a fireplace. As Roy occupies himself with a copy of the Kama Sutra, Wang enters the secret room, which contains treasures from throughout the British Empire. Rathbone's guards attack Roy, but he is rescued by Lin, who has escaped from Scotland Yard. The three see Rathbone hand the Imperial Seal to Wu Chow, the illegitimate brother of the Emperor of China. Rathbone sees them and sets fire to the building, but young Charlie shows up and makes off with the Seal, Lin escapes through the roof, and Wang and Roy commandeer Rathbone's primitive automobile for a wild ride, culminating in them crashing into Stonehenge.

While unconscious after the car crash, Roy has a sexual fantasy involving Lin and the Kama Sutra, and he decides to start pursuing her, much to Wang's dismay. Lin finds them and gives them a ride to Whitechapel, where they stay in a rundown inn called The Puss in Boots. Wang tells Lin about Roy's vices and problems, which Roy overhears. Lin does not flinch, but Roy is devastated at the betrayal. Wang however quickly makes it up to him by convincing several female prostitutes to have a sexy pillow fight with Roy.

Lin, surprisingly, walks in on the fiasco and is heartbroken at the sight of Roy taking part in all the shenanigans. They all find themselves surrounded by Rathbone and a squad of Boxers who apprehend the three. Taken to a covered pier, tied up and left defenseless, Wang and Roy finally encounter Wu Chow, his second-in-command Liu (Tom Wu) and his Boxers. Wu Chow ties her up to try to locate the Seal, but they do not know where Charlie has taken it. He tells them the grand scheme: Rathbone would kill the bearer of the Seal and return the item to Wu Chow, who would use the Seal to unite the enemies of China and claim the imperial throne. In return, Wu Chow would use a Gatling gun to dispatch the British Royal Family, leaving Rathbone, who is tenth in line to the throne, King of England.

Chon Wang and Roy escape and track down Artie Doyle, who has developed an investigative technique called deductive reasoning, which he uses to find that Charlie has been hiding at Madame Tussauds wax museum. They reclaim the Seal, but it is taken by Boxers, and the three are arrested for trespassing. Charlie (who reveals his full name to be Charlie Chaplin) breaks them out, and they go to Queen Victoria's Jubilee Ball, where the Royal Family will be.

Wang finds Wu Chow and Lin as well on the fireworks barge, kills Liu, unties Lin, and dismantles Wu's plan. However, Wu proves himself to be an accomplished martial artist, surpassing Wang in skill, but Lin arrives in time to kill him with a fireworks rocket and save Wang. Artie and Roy, who have found their way into the Houses of Parliament, confront Rathbone and prevent his escape. Before Artie can arrest him, Rathbone shoots him in the shoulder. Roy and Wang pursue Rathbone up into Big Ben, where they engage him in a sword fight. Rathbone pushes Roy out of the glass front of the clock, but Roy catches himself on one of the clock's hands. Rathbone nearly defeats Wang, but Wang's rage over his dead father and fallen comrade leads him to suicidally grapple with Rathbone, sending both of them flying out the clock face. Luckily, Roy catches Wang, as Rathbone plummets to his death. Roy and Wang decide to jump by gripping hold of a large British Flag draped over Big Ben and land in the carriage containing Queen Victoria.

Roy and Wang are knighted, as is Artie, whose full name is now Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Artie decides to become a writer, his stories revolving around his deductive reasoning technique, and asks Roy if he can use the "Sherlock Holmes" name. Roy proposes that he and Wang go to Hollywood to get in on the ground floor with motion pictures. They roll off in a buggy, with Charlie (wearing a fake moustache) stowed away. Wang also manages to open the box his father sent him, finding a message inside reminding him of the importance of family.

Cast[edit]

Jackie Chan Stunt Team[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

There are a lot of references that are hard to miss, such as the fact that the little boy winds up being Charlie Chaplin, the detective is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who goes on to writing the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and Roy talks about Zeppelins "taking off" and being a successful invention despite what will happen to the Hindenburg in 1937.

  • The serial killer Jack the Ripper can be seen in several shots.
  • There may have been a mistake from the directors' understanding of Boxer movements (or simply to make the story flow). Boxers are rioting Chinese patriots who are against any foreigners in China. Therefore it is highly illogical why any of them would work for Rathbone. However, if the director's artistic license is allowed, it can also be argued that the Boxers in the story are working for Wu Chow, the evil half-brother of the Emperor of China, who in turn collaborates with the British Lord Rathbone.
  • When Chon Wang is fighting the police in New York City, it is a blatant reference to the Keystone Cops of early silent film.
  • In the scene where the thief takes the watch, in the scenery is a building that says "R. Sowerberry, Undertaker." (and Chon Wang is thrown into a coffin next to the building at this point) This is a reference to the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, where the workhouse's undertaker is Mr. Sowerberry. During this scene the first four notes of the theme to The Addams Family (1964) are heard.
  • After Lin runs off after finding Wang and Roy during the pillow fight, she is stopped by Jack the Ripper on a bridge, and ends up kicking him over the edge into the river.
  • The stunt sequence where Wang fought the foes while holding an open umbrella pays tribute to the well-known Singin' in the Rain scene with Gene Kelly. In the scene, the song "Singin' in the Rain" is heard also.
  • The name of the villain, "the finest swordsman in England," seems to be a tribute to Basil Rathbone, who in villain roles often looked to be the better swordsman, holding back artificially to let the hero win as per the script. Also, Basil Rathbone starred as Sherlock Holmes in a series of movies throughout the late 1930s and 1940s.
  • When Chon Wang and Roy are entering the Jubilee party, the string quartet plays an uncredited baroque version of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" (just before the piece by Boccherini).
  • The fight scene with the guards in Rathbone's library and treasure room, where Chon Wang used ancient Chinese vases to distract the guards, pays homage to Chan's previous film, Rush Hour. The same scene also recalls Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; both feature a fight sequence involving a rotating fireplace leading to a secret chamber.
  • The climatic scene in the Big Ben clock tower pays homage to the 1978 film The Thirty Nine Steps, which was itself inspired by a scene in the 1943 Will Hay comedy My Learned Friend. The scene where Chon Wang and Roy fall off of the minute hand on Big Ben is a reference to Jackie Chan's earlier film Project A where Jackie Falls off the minute hand of a smaller clock tower, itself a reference to Harold Lloyd's famous clock-tower stunt from the 1923 film Safety Last!
  • While sitting by the fireplace in the flat they had illegally entered Roy mentions that he would like, in the future to have grandchildren, calling them Vera, Chuck, and Dave which is in reference to the Beatles song lyrics from "When I'm Sixty-Four".
  • When knocking on Conan Doyle's door, the clothes that Roy and Wang are wearing are exactly the same dress that Holmes and Watson wore in Conan Doyle's stories.
  • Owen Wilson's quote "I call that my Kung Pao chicken" is a reference to the western civilization's admiration of Chinese cuisine.

Anachronisms[edit]

The movie features a number of things that came about after 1887, although this can be forgiven in a comedy. Among the anachronisms are:

  • Charlie Chaplin, who was born two years after the events take place.
  • Cinema, which came about in the 1890s.
  • Jack the Ripper, who carried out his murders in 1888.

Production[edit]

  • Director David Dobkin was personally chosen by Jackie Chan.
  • Director David Dobkin had a difficult time choosing a suitable Asian actress who could do movement work, emote well and speak decent English. He then saw clips of Fann Wong's videos "Wo lai ye" (2001) and "Qing she yu bai she" (2001) and requested to audition her in London, which she did attend. She subsequently got the role and her number of scenes was increased by thirty percent.
  • Shanghai Knights is the first Hollywood and English-language film of Singaporean actress Fann Wong.
  • Fann Wong trained for her stunts despite not having a martial arts background. She has a background in ballet, which helped to a certain extent.
  • The role of Wu Chow was originally offered to Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation star Robin Shou, but he had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts, and it eventually went to Donnie Yen.
  • This film marks the first on-screen battle between Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen, who both have had success in Hong Kong but never fought each other on screen until again later in the Hong Kong film The Twins Effect II, which starred Chan and his son in semi-major roles.
  • The man bouncing in the pillow fight scene is actually first assistant director Mirek Lux.

Reception[edit]

The film has received generally positive reviews from critics, and holds a fresh score of 66% at Rotten Tomatoes.[2] It holds a Metacritic score of 58 out of 100.[3]

Sequel[edit]

A third movie was meant to be produced under the title Shanghai Dawn. Plans for the movie were posted on Jackie Chan's website, but after some news of casting and production plans, no movie has been produced. While unconfirmed, it is speculated that the project has been halted indefinitely as there is no news nor release dates.

In a February 7, 2003, interview, Owen Wilson said: "We're talking about it maybe starting in Hollywood and then going from there to Africa or the Pyramids ... I feel like we have the freedom to take them anywhere in time we want."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shanghai Knights - BBFC. BBFC. Retrieved October 28, 2014
  2. ^ "Shanghai Knights". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-07-19. 
  3. ^ "Critic Reviews for Shanghai Knights". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-07-19. 

External links[edit]