SHANGHAI KNIGHTS: DVD
When a Chinese rebel murders Chon’s estranged father and flees to England, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) and Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson) head to London for revenge. In the meantime, Chon’s sister Lin (Fann Wong) has the same idea and uncovers a conspiracy to murder the Royal family, but no-one believes her. With the help of a Scotland Yard Inspector (Thomas Fischer) and a 10 year old street urchin (Aaron Johnson), Chon gives Victorian Britain a kick in the pants as he tries to avenge his father’s death and keep the romance-minded Roy away from his sister.
Review by Louise Keller:
They’re a lovable and entertaining duo and this is one DVD that will certainly make you feel good. The story is original, taking the buddy premise of Shanghai Noon one notch further with a splendid romp of inventive martial arts action complemented by witty humour in spectacular settings.
The Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson combination is a winning one: Chan is a master at physical, while Wilson has the leading man presence with the droll delivery. They look as though they are having a ball and it’s infectious. This is a marriage of ideas, likeable characters, lively music and fabulous settings. The script cleverly places both these characters out of their elements, resulting in a marvellous juxtaposition of place, characters and music.
The plot is wildly ludicrous, but because the characters are so beautifully created, we simply embrace it and jump on the horse-driven carriage and go for the ride. We go from the ornate settings of China to the decadence of New York and to the tradition of England. There’s plenty to feast your eyes on and plenty to amuse. I’m still chuckling over the spectacle, the funny lines and the marvellous great screen presence of its two stars. The clever joke from Shanghai Noon which made the mispronunciation of Chon Wang’s name sound like John Wayne is taken further yet again: this is an example of how spontaneous and natural is the humour.
Chan’s action choreography is inspired with an ingenious sequence using a hotel revolving door, while another in the London markets uses jackets, flower barrows, fruit stalls, ladders and umbrellas to create a dance-like routine which ends with a tribute to Singin’ in the Rain. But there is a tip of the hat to several other heroes, like Charlie Chaplin and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Then there’s the set piece in Madame Tussauds, the fight sequence under the stars and a myriad of fireworks as well as the big bang under Big Ben, when the minute hand momentarily stops.
Chan has never been better and Wilson is irresistible – he is vulnerable in the most appealing way. Chon Lin too is a knockout as Chan’s sister and Roy’s love interest – pretty as a picture and executes a high kick with deadly precision. Yes, there are sword fights, summersaults and imaginative action pieces. Plus there are pieces of nonsense, like the feather pillow fight, the harem fantasy sequence and the countless other, often ridiculous treats to savour.
When you look comfortable, it looks real, confides Jackie Chan in the Flight Manual feature. Chan talks about shooting action comedy and the difficulties. Chan and director David Dobkin. The trick is to make everyone look good, says Chan. Watching him in action and seeing him control the action is inspiring, this icon of cinema. We can almost see the ideas coming to Chan as he describes the action sequences on the set in frame-by-frame description. Chan has an easy rapport with everyone – from his co-star Owen Wilson to the stunt players.
The Action Overload feature plays like a silent movie with all the action sequences edited together. There are eleven deleted scenes: some are the longer version of what we saw in the movie. I still chuckle when I see Chan in the bathtub…
It’s a treat to have two full audio commentaries and they are beauties. It’s always interesting to listen to the writers talking about the film from their point of view and Alfred Gough and Miles Millar talk about how it was important to re-establish the characters from the outset. They are full of praise for Chan, saying that he is not only a great action star, but a very fine actor who can portray such emotions.
Published August 28, 2003
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SHANGHAI KNIGHTS: DVD (M)
CAST: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Donnie Yen, Fann Wong, Aidan Gillen Tom Fisher, Kim Chan, Gemma Jones
DIRECTOR: David Dobkin
SCRIPT: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes
PRESENTATION: Dolby Digital; 16 : 9 transfer for dual layered format;
SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurettes – Flight Manual, Action Overload; Deleted Scenes; Two audio commentaries with director and screenwriters.
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
DVD RELEASE: August 20, 2003