When Chon Wang’s father is murdered, China’s Imperial Seal is stolen and taken to England. Chon and Roy O’Bannon leave America to go in search for the Seal and when they get to England, they find Chon’s sister, Lin, has already started the search. Those responsible for the murder, Lord Rathbone and Wu Chow, want to steal power from their governments by deadly means. Now Chon, Roy and Lin must race against time to find the Seal before Rathbone and Chow can carry out their dastardly plans.
Shanghai Knights (2003) – Director: David Dobkin
Running Length: 114 mins
Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Aiden Gillen
Genre: Martial Arts, Comedy
‘Shanghai Knights’ is the sequel to the 2000 hit, ‘Shanghai Noon’ and this time the action is taken across the pond to Victorian London. All the staples are there – Jack the Ripper, lovable cockney street urchins and Fagin style criminals to name but a few. The banter between Chan and Wilson is still present, however the chemistry is somewhat lacking, possibly due to Wilson’s character, Roy, being more arrogant and unpleasant than in the last film. Whereas before, his selfish nature hid his good heart, this time, his nasty, bullying behaviour overtakes the now nonsensical good nature that flashes through him with no real consistency.
Chan’s martial arts scenes are, as usual, top notch, especially the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ homage where Chan fights a bunch of criminals with an umbrella. Aiden Gillan and Donnie Yen (who play Rathbone and Wu Chow, respectively) are also great in their roles as the evil villains who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Essentially, ‘Shanghai Knights’ is a perfectly watchable and entertaining movie but, if you are expecting the high level of comedy and fun of the first movie, you may be disappointed.
IS ‘SHANGHAI KNIGHTS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The opening scene is set in China at the Forbidden City. Several men attack the guards outside; some have ropes put around their necks and are hoisted up, others are shot in the chest with arrows. One, who has been shot with an arrow falls to his knees and looks up at one of the attackers who pulls out a sword and swings it towards the guard’s head although the camera cuts away before anything is seen. The attackers then enter the Palace, stabbing one man and kicking a young woman in the stomach which throws her across the room and through a wooden panel.
There are several scenes where Roy is surrounded by women who fawn all over him. In one scene, two women who are flirting with him in a hotel bar put their room keys on his crotch. Roy then gives one of these keys to Chon, telling him that it is a spare room for him to clean up and get changed. He is then shown to be in a bathtub and is startled when one of the women who was flirting with Roy approaches him in her underwear. He leaves the room and tells Roy that ‘she wants me to sleep with her!’ Roy implies that he should in order for him to get the money he needs to go to England and Chon says ‘I will not sleep with women for money’. Roy shows Chon the other woman who is in his bed and tells him that this is what he will be doing. The two men then go back to their separate rooms and, when Roy realises that they need to make a quick getaway, he goes to Chon’s room who is on the bed with the woman in a seemingly compromising position. Roy looks away in disgust but it soon becomes clear that nothing sexual has happened when Chon says ‘I was fixing her back’.
There are also a lot of sexual references in Roy’s dialogue. For instance, he says ‘England is ass soup, lots of pretty girls there’ and when someone offers him some Spotted Dick at a dinner party, he tells Chon ‘he’s asking me if I have the Clap!’ He also expresses his concerns to Chon about his ability to have children and says ‘my salmon don’t swim upstream the way their supposed to’ and ‘I’m firing blanks’. These phrases are repeated by Chon later in the movie.
One scene is set in a library and Roy picks up a copy of the Kama Sutra which has the subtitle: ‘The Art of Sexual Technique’; he is then shown to be looking at the pictures with a magnifying glass. There is a fireplace in the library with statues of naked women on either side of it. Chon is trying to find a button or lever to reach a secret room; it turns out that pushing the breasts of one of the statues causes the fireplace to spin around to the secret room. Later in this scene, Lin tries to find how to make the fireplace spin and touches the statues; not realising what she is doing, Roy says ‘Kinky, I like it’.
Another scene shows Roy waking up in a bed, surrounded by attractive women in revealing clothes. Lin then approaches him by crawling over the bed and she produces a copy of the Kama Sutra, Roy asks her ‘do you want to try the position on page 37?’ Lin then licks his face but it is revealed that Roy is dreaming and it is actually a sheep that is licking his face.
Roy and Chon go to a brothel and after being there for a while, a prostitute asks Roy ‘do you fancy a tumble?’ Roy tells her that he is a changed man but before, he would have ‘bedded her in a second’. Chon then arranges for several prostitutes to be in Roy’s room and, not wanting to sleep with them, Roy and Chon have a pillow fight with them all. The majority of this is not sexual; however, when another character walks into the room, they are both naked and hurriedly cover themselves.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Shanghai Knights’ tries to recreate the light hearted fun of ‘Shanghai Noon’ but doesn’t quite manage it. The first movie was mostly child-friendly, with a bit of innuendo but the sequel takes the innuendo too far, making it much more adult in nature. We believe that, depending on your feelings on the innuendo, ‘Shanghai Knights’ should be appropriate for kids aged 10 and over.
- Violence: 2/5 (mostly light hearted martial arts in nature)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Chon is very upset by the death of his father, especially as he knows he was always a disappointment to him)
- Fear Factor: 0/5
- Sexual Content: 4/5
- Bad Language: 2/5 (infrequent cursing and blasphemy. One character speaks in Chinese and the subtitles say ‘%?!#-ing loser’. Lin also talks about the Emperor’s ‘bastard brother’)
- Dialogue: 3/5 (Roy’s dialogue can be very sexual in nature. Roy also insults a young orphaned boy by saying ‘we’ve got parents who love us, you don’t coz you’re a little orphan’)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of betrayal, revenge, helping a friend when it will not benefit you and the effects of a selfish attitude.
Words by Laura Record