Shanghai Knights (2003)

Rating: B-

Dir: David Dobkin
Star: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Aidan Gillen, Tom Fisher

Though the original wasn’t exactly calling out for a sequel, have to admit this irritated me much less than its Wild West predecessor. Even the relentless digs at us Brits are harmless, given the London here is wildly anachronistic – and is largely the Czech Republic. Chon (Chan) and O’Bannon (Wilson) come to London, hunting the evil villain (Gillen) who killed Chon’s father and nicked the Emperor’s seal as part of a convoluted plot which would see him become King, and Wu Chow (Donnie Yen) become Emperor. The prospect of Yen taking on Chan had me salivating, but that’s a disappointing second fiddle to an admittedly decent duel between Chan and Gillen.

The best fight, however, is probably Chan’s market battle against English ruffians, culminating in a beautiful Singing in the Rain sequence worthy of any JC flick. Otherwise, it’s hard to criticise a film that takes itself so flippantly. Wilson is his usual endearing goofy self, just about staying this side of irritating; I could have done without real historical figures being hammered into the mix, even if the dispatch of Jack the Ripper by Chon’s sister (Faye Wong, looking rather like Zhang Zi-Yi) was amusingly terse. There are still too many echoes of better Chan movies – Drunken Master 2 and Project A most obviously – yet this is entertaining nonsense, which left me with a smile. But have there ever been so many odd-shaped noses in a movie?