The numbskull duo from the bland action yarn “Shanghai Noon” return for yet another vehicle sequel “Shanghai Knights.” I was not a fan of the original film, I thought it was yet another bland vehicle for Wilson and Chan who seem to only be charismatic and funny when paired with a complete opposite. This sequel didn’t prove to be anything new or innovative as well; it was just an endless sequence of comedic dialogue, fight scene, comedic dialogue, fight scene, and so on, so it’s obvious I felt jumbled by the sloppy story and cheap plot devices.
This time we meet Chon Wang’s baby sister the delectable Chon Lin played by the delicious Fann Wong whose palace is stormed by imperial guards and the evil Lord Rathbone. While fighting off the henchmen, Lin witnesses her father die at the hands of Rathbone and she’s rendered unconscious in time for them to escape without a skirmish. She now treks to London to track down Rathbone but news of her father’s death has been sent to Chon Wang who is now a sheriff in a Western town. He’s given the box that tells of his father’s death and decides to avenge him by confronting Rathbone and rescuing his sister. But along the way meets up with Roy O’Bannon who volunteers to go with his partner to London and help avenge his father, besides, as he says, “He hears London is ass soup.” Odd modern slang for a cowboy in the late 1800’s but I digress. So, they travel to London and follow Rathbone with the help of a local Scotland yard investigator Artie, and a young boy who helps them in their journey.
“Shanghai Knights,” a sequel minus Lucy Liu doesn’t have a lot in the brains department or the storytelling department. It’s cliché so the writers rely solely on Wilson’s charisma, and Chan’s martial arts because there’s an acrobatic scene practically every ten minutes which gets sickening. But you can’t expect an original buddy comedy these days that hasn’t already been done. Director David Dobkin creates a light breezy but yet again bland yarn that fails to bring apart anything new except throw in a lot of cultural references and obvious gags that’s been done to death. Wang is given a puzzle box by his father which he must decode to discover the message when he’s ready to discover its meaning– or at least until the end of the movie for an obligatory heartfelt moment. Either way, it’s quite a cheesy plot device. A plot device used during the progression of the Chon Wang character is the fact he must decode in order to get a message, but he must have patience.
I never have patience when doing those stupid puzzles, I’ll never get a message. New addition, Singapore actress Fann Wong fills in for Lucy Liu and has a lot of charisma, a lot more than Liu’s character did and becomes a welcome addition to the team helping to keep Wilson and Chan from ruining this completely and keeps her incredible beauty, and enjoyable character on the screen long enough to enjoy the film. She’s a perfect polar opposite to Chan and Wilson, and is not used as a tool but is really an actual character. Wong manages to outdo most of Wilson and Chan’s scenes and steals many of the paired action scenes with her beauty, charisma and knack for sheer acting ability. “Shanghai Knights” is not a masterpiece, but it’s still better than the first film by a notch. You have to wonder when these lackluster Chan and Wilson vehicles will end.