Shanghai Knights (2003)

Genres - Action, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Action Comedy, Buddy Film, Odd Couple Film  |   Release Date - Feb 7, 2003 (USA)  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Buddy-driven franchises usually get clumsier with each installment, but Jackie Chan movies just get fleeter of foot -- and it's not because he's defying age any better than usual. First with Chris Tucker in Rush Hour 2, now with Owen Wilson in Shanghai Knights, Chan scores at least as well -- if not better -- on his second waltz with each partner. And never have his moves seemed more like dance, especially during this film's instant-classic homage to Singin' in the Rain, in which the kung fu gymnast dispatches villains with a deployed umbrella and a Gene Kelly repertoire of glides and spins. Not every set piece equals this imaginative high, and in fact, an otherwise clever revolving-door scene is notable for relying on quick, disorienting edits, which simulate the frenetic pace Chan could once generate on his own. But this amounts to quibbling, because Shanghai Knights gives viewers everything they expect for the price of admission, including another generous helping of Wilson's sham cowboy legend Roy O'Bannon and his gift for eccentric chatter. Both Shanghai movies succeed on the strength of this fluffy sensibility, which nails the tone Wild Wild West (1999) could never find. Sure, it's awfully cutesy when the script places the duo in the middle of every major historical event of pre-20th century London, from the thwarting of Jack the Ripper to the inception of Sherlock Holmes. But that's why Shanghai Knights is fine popcorn entertainment -- it convinces viewers not to get too distracted by such unimportant shortcomings.