SHANGHAI KNIGHTS is one of the few sequels that is actually better than the original. Like the original, however, there are some inappropriate sexual jokes and homosexual references, which have earned the movie an unnecessary PG-13 rating. Apparently, Hollywood no longer is interested in making many G or PG movies, despite the fact that G and PG movies, especially if they’re made with care, humor and great warmth, can earn more money because they reach a broader audience.
Once again Jackie Chan plays Chon Wang, who’s now sheriff of Carson City, Nevada. Owen Wilson plays his white friend, Roy, who’s supposed to be investing the gold that they got in the first movie, SHANGHAI NOON. Chon, whom everyone calls John Wayne in one of the movie’s many in-jokes, comes to Roy in New York City wanting his money. Chon needs the money to get to England, where Chon’s sister is tracking down the aristocratic Englishman who killed their elderly father and stole the Chinese Emperor’s seal that she and their father were guarding.
Chon learns, however, that Roy has spent a lot of the money and invested the rest in the Zeppelin company, which builds large helium balloons for air travel. They make their way to England anyway, where they must rescue Chon’s sister, Lin, from Lord Rathbone’s evil plan to murder the royal family, assume the English throne and give the seal to the Chinese Emperor’s illegitimate brother who’s helping Rathbone. Lots of comedy and lots of action follows, until the heroes prevail.
SHANGHAI KNIGHTS is, perhaps, more funny and more exciting than SHANGHAI NOON. Jackie Chan again shows why he’s a master at martial arts filmmaking, especially when he’s comically dodging swords and clubs and other things, or cleverly using the physical objects surrounding him and his pursuers. At one point, when Jackie’s using an umbrella to fight off the bad guys and maintain his balance at the same time, the music plays chords from dancer Gene Kelly’s famous “Singin’ in the Rain” number. This is an absolutely perfect comparison between these two great cinema icons. Martial arts movies have often been compared to the elaborate choreography created by dancers like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Bob Fosse.
SHANGHAI KNIGHTS also makes some clever comparisons between Jackie and Charlie Chaplin. Though clever, these comparisons are not so apt. Jackie is more like that other genius of silent comedy, Buster Keaton. Keaton was known more for his clever use of physical objects than Chaplin, as when Keaton uses one log to remove another log lying in front of a speeding train in the classic Civil War comedy, THE GENERAL.
Owen Wilson and his character, Roy, are not so enjoyable in SHANGHAI KNIGHTS, however. Roy is an unreformed womanizer and self-promoter who takes advantage of Chon’s character. Roy also cruelly chastises a small street urchin who causes he and Chon some trouble.
Thus, while it’s always nice to see Jackie Chan in action, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS uses Roy’s character to insert some inappropriate, gratuitous, unfunny sexual comedy into the proceedings. There are also about 15 obscenities and profanities in this movie. Getting rid of much, or even all, of these negative elements, would have made SHANGHAI KNIGHTS far more appropriate for family audiences, including older children and young teens, many of whom might like to see something like this movie. Consequently, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS is liable to suffer the same fate as its predecessor, which made less than $60 million at the box office. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® regrettably must give SHANGHAI KNIGHTS an extreme caution for teenagers and adults, and only three stars.
Please address your comments to:
Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO
Buena Vista Distribution Co.
(Walt Disney Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood, Miramax, & Touchstone Pictures)
Dick Cook, Chairman
Walt Disney Pictures
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
(B, Pa, Ho, LL, VV, S, N, A, D, M) Light moral worldview, including a plea to God for help, with some immoral pagan elements and a few homosexual jokes; 13 obscenities, one strong profanity, one light profanity, and a few crude double entendres; action violence such as martial arts fighting, leaping and falling, machine gun fire, young man fatally stabs elderly man, slapstick comedy, and sword fighting; sexual references such as waiter tries to bed rich young woman but is interrupted, pillow fight with prostitutes, man finds kama sutra sex book, man dreams woman is licking his face but it turns out to be a sheep, and a few homosexual jokes; female cleavage, women in old-fashioned underwear and men hold pillows in front of their private parts when someone bursts into room where they were having pillow fight with prostitutes; alcohol use; smoking; and, lying, stealing and treason.
GENRE: Action Adventure/Martial Arts