Shanghai Knights

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Shanghai Knights
Shanghai knights.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Dobkin
Produced by Roger Birnbaum
Gary Barber
Jonathan Glickman
Written by Alfred Gough
Miles Millar
Based on Characters 
by Alfred Gough
Miles Millar
Starring Jackie Chan
Owen Wilson
Donnie Yen
Aidan Gillen
Fann Wong
Tom Fisher
Kim Chan
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Edited by Malcolm Campbell
Touchstone Pictures
Spyglass Entertainment
Birnbaum/Barber Productions
Jackie Chan Films Limited
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • February 7, 2003 (2003-02-07)
Running time
114 minutes

United States

United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $50 million
Box office $88.3 million

Shanghai Knights is a 2003 British-American action comedy film. It is the sequel to Shanghai Noon. It was directed by David Dobkin and written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. This is the second installment of the Shanghai Trilogy.


In 1887, Chon Lin (Fann Wong) is drinking tea with her father (Kim Chan), the Keeper of the Imperial Seal of China, in the Forbidden City. She tells him her brother, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan), is doing well as a sheriff in Carson City, Nevada, 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. Despite Lin's efforts, her father is killed and the seal is stolen. With his last breath, he gives Lin a box and tells her to give it to her brother.

Meanwhile, 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, which Wang is dismayed. 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 (in truth, he lost all of the gold on his novels), and is now a hotel waiter and part-time gigolo. After they attempt prostitution to pay for a trip to the United Kingdom, 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.

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 arrive that night at the gala, wearing 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 spots them, and after a brief battle, he sets the barn on fire and escapes, locking the doors behind him to burn them. Lin manages to escape through a hole in the ceiling, while Roy and Wang escape in a car that had been parked in the barn. They tell Artie to tell where Charlie (who has stolen the seal) is. Artie finds out that it is in the wax museum. In the wax museum, they save Charlie from the boxers, but are themselves captured outside by the Scotland Yard. Taken away in a police buggy, they are rescued by Charlie, who later reveals his full name to be Charlie Chaplin. They head to the Royal Jubilee celebration to stop Rathbone and Wu Chow. Rathbone tells them that he is going to kill the royal family and frame Lin. They escape and manage to stop Wu Chow from killing the royal family. Just as he was about to kill Wang, Lin blasts him with a rocket, killing him. Then they follow Rathbone to the top of Big Ben. He throws Roy out of the tower, but he survives when he holds a minute hand. Thinking Roy is dead, Chon fights with Rathbone who had the upper hand. At last, he cuts the rope which was tied to the plank they were standing on, tossing them both outside. Roy saves Wang as Rathbone falls to his death.

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.


Jackie Chan Stunt Team[edit]

  • Brad Allan as Street thug / Library thug (uncredited)
  • Paul Andreovski as Library thug with sword (double) / English policeman (uncredited)
  • Nicky Li
  • Ken Lo
  • Mars
  • Ng Kong
  • Park Hyun Jin
  • Lee In Seob
  • Han Kwan Hua


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.


  • When Chon Wang meets Roy at the Ritz, the music playing in the background is the music used as background music in The Little Rascals and other Hal Roach talkies; it is called "In My Canoe".
  • When Chon Wang and Roy are crossing the street in London, Chon pulls Roy back before he is hit by horses pulling a carriage. Roy says "Hey, I'm walking here!" - a reference to Midnight Cowboy (1969).
  • During the fight with the ruffians, Jackie falls into a coffin. The sign on the wall behind him reads "Sowerberry". Mr. Sowerberry is the funeral Director/Mortician from the book Oliver Twist. During this scene the first four notes of the theme to "The Addams Family" are heard.
  • Music from Singin' in the Rain (1952) is heard during the fight with umbrellas.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a plump man with bushy mustache. However, Artie does possess a striking resemblance to Sherlock Holmes himself, especially according to the famous Sidney Paget's illustrations.
  • The scene where Chon Wang gives Doyle Roy's watch to see what can be learned from it is a direct allusion to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Sign of Four" when Watson gives Holmes his watch to see what the great detective can induce from it.
  • There are several references to Sherlock Holmes in this movie. One of them is that the "bad guy" is named Lord Rathbone. Basil Rathbone was one of the first actors to play Sherlock Holmes in a movie.
  • Lord Rathbone in the movie is referred to as "the finest swordsman in England". Actor Basil Rathbone was the star of many swordplay films, and was considered the finest swordsman on the silver screen.
  • When Roy is fantasizing about his future family life, he mentions his kids' names as "Vera, Chuck, and Dave." These are the names of the grandchildren in Paul McCartney's fantasy from the Beatles song, "When I'm Sixty-Four
  • When Chon Wang and Roy are entering the Jubilee party, the string quartet plays a uncredited baroque version of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" (just before the piece by Boccherini).
  • In the scene where Chon Wang fights Rathbone's guards, they are constantly making sure that no priceless antique urns are broken. This is the same exact action by Jackie Chan's character in the climax of Rush Hour.
  • At some points, Lord Rathbone and Wu Chow speak in iambic pentameter. Most notable is the stable scene: "I was taught to be neither seen nor heard/ Where is the seal? (I'm a man of my word.)"
  • The old man bouncing in the pillow fight scene is actually first assistant director Mirek Lux.
  • When Artie Doyle tries to break the lock of Madame Tussaud's, Roy compares his work to that of a surgeon. This is probably a reference to the fact that the real Arthur Conan Doyle was a physician, even though in the movie he's a detective.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays a young boy who supposedly grows up to be the actor Charles Chaplin. The real Charlie Chaplin was born in 1889, two years after the movie is set (1887).
  • The barge/tug on the river during the fireworks scene is named Resolve which was the name of an allied (British) rescue tug commissioned in 1918.
  • 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.
  • In the clock tower fight, Chon says "You go this way, I'll go that way." This is the same quote used in the popular Rush Hour series. Both films star Jackie Chan.
  • 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.
  • As they approach the palace and the yeomen warders, the introduction to 'Winchester Cathedral' plays in the background.
  • This film is the first English-language role and Hollywood debut for Fann Wong.


  • The London street urchin that O'Bannon chases turns out to be Charles Chaplin. Chaplin was not born until 1889.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was knighted in 1902.
  • Aircraft contrails visible over 19th century London, and again at Stonehenge.
  • The first commercially available automobile did not appear until 1888, and it looked very different from the cars seen in the movie. The particular Renault automobile owned by Rathbone was made around 1914.
  • The Palace guards are shown holding Lee-Enfield rifles. These were not accepted by the British military until 1895.
  • The particular Lee Enfield Rifles shown with the Buckingham Palace Guards are Number 4 rifles which were not adopted until 1940.
  • The facade of Buckingham Palace shown in the movie wasn't created until the 1930s.
  • The Statue of Liberty is shown surrounded by scaffolding as the ship leaves New York harbor. The statue was dedicated on July 4th, 1886. All exterior work on the statue requiring scaffolding was completed by that time, although the scene is set supposedly almost a year later.
  • Blue flashes in the fireworks at the end. Firework makers could not make strong blue colors at the time.
  • The machine gun clearly uses tracers. Tracers were not available until World War I.
  • The film was set in 1887, and ends with Roy O'Bannon talking about Hollywood and the new fascinating invention (Film) that is growing there. However, moving pictures were not invented until 1894, in France, by the brothers Lumiére. And it took years before Hollywood came on the scene.
  • Roy screams at Lin that there is a “serial killer on the loose” when speaking about Jack the Ripper. Yet the term was not coined until the late seventies by FBI agent Robert Ressler or by Doctor Robert Keppel.
  • The shot of Buckingham Palace includes the Victoria Memorial in front of it, designed by Sir Thomas Brock in 1911.
  • When Roy and Chong are at the Royal Palace, the red uniforms the guards are wearing did not come around until 1904. The film is set in 1887.
  • Ferdinand von Zeppelin did not seriously consider building his airship until 1890. Even though he had such plans in 1887, it is highly unlikely that anyone could invest in airships at that time as Roy did.
  • One of the film's many “historical cameos” is made by Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper's crime spree began in August 1888.
  • Work began on Tower Bridge in 1886, but it was not completed until 1894.
  • When Chon Wang and Roy are leaving on the steamship, a bridge can be seen on the left crossing over the Hudson River. A Hudson River crossing was not completed until 1931.
  • At Stonehenge, modern rubber radial tires can be seen on the automobile that Chon Wang and O'Bannon stole from Rathbone.
  • In the “Kung Pow Chicken” scene, when Chan is fighting with the thugs, he traps one of the thugs' hand in between two boxes. The thug is wearing modern shoes.
  • When Roy is sitting in the hotel talking with the mayor's daughters, we hear “Ain't misbehaving” being played by the pianist in the background. The song was written around 1927. The movie is set in 1887.
  • A wide shot of Old London Town shows Portcullis House next to the Houses of Parliament, completed in 2000.
  • One of the Roy O'Bannon's book features zombies, but zombies were not popularized until the 1930s-1960s.

Character error[edit]

  • When Chon Wang and Roy are talking following being picked up by Lin on the way from Stonehenge, Chon calls Roy “Owen”.
  • Lord Rathbone would not have had to kill 10 members of the Royal family, but at least 20 to gain the throne: The Prince of Wales, his sons Albert Victor and George; Prince Arthur and his son Arthur Jr.; Prince Alfred and his son Alfred Jr.; Prince Leopold's son Prince Charles; and the Princes Christian Victor and Albert (nephews of the queen). Because British royal rule is not salic (meaning passed down along the male line, but rather, through immediate family), following the deaths of these people each of Queen Victoria's 'untitled' daughters would assume the throne in turn; Princess Louise, Princess Helena, and finally Princess Beatrice. Had these people been killed, the crown would have passed on to the eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales, Victoria, and, following her death, about 11 of her cousins in succession. Rathbone would actually have been 21st in line; not far from Roy's '20th in line' jibe.
  • When Lord Rathbone revealed an automatic Gatling gun and said it was British ingenuity he was partially incorrect. The Gatling gun was a hand cranked weapon that was created by Richard Gatling, American, in 1861 and patented May of 1862. The first automatic, self-powered machine gun was invented by an American born Briton, Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884 and first displayed in 1885. The Maxim gun bared little resemblance to the Gatling gun. Automatic Gatling style guns did not come about until the 1940's.
  • (at around 1h 14 mins) When the machine gun is revealed, the cartridge box is incorrectly labelled 'cartrigde'.
  • Lord Rathbone addresses Queen Victoria as “Your Highness”. The correct form of address is “Your Majesty” or or “Ma'am”, although a Lord who is tenth in line to the throne should have known this.
  • In the ceremony when someone is made a Knight or a Dame, the Monarch speaks that person's full name. Doyle was born Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. When Queen Victoria knights him, she does not say “Ignatius”. Nor does she speak Chon Wang's and O'Bannon's full names.


The film has received mixed to 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]


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

On May 14, 2015, MGM announced that they are moving forward with Shanghai Dawn. Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Owen Wilson are expected to reprise their roles as Chon Wang, Princess Pei-Pei and Roy O'Bannon respectively.[4] In September of 2016, Jared Hess signed on as director for the film while both Millar and Gough will develop a screen story with Theodore Riley and Aaron Buchsbaum writing the script for the film.[5][6]

See also[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. 
  4. ^ Perry, Spencer (2015-05-14). "MGM Moving Forward with Shanghai Dawn, Starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson". Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Kit, Borys (September 6, 2016). "'Napoleon Dynamite' Director Jared Hess Tackling 'Shanghai Noon' Sequel (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 

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