Sunday, June 08, 2003

Not that I expected much from Shanghai Knights. Its predecessor was a disappointment, in spite of Owen Wilson giving ample proof of his comic talents. Where Wilson stole the thunder from Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon, Knights is most definitely a Jackie Chan flick. Of Chan’s Hollywood oeuvre, this latest is the one where I think he best displays his reverence for that movie icon to whom he is most indebted—the incomparable Buster Keaton. There is in this film at least one scene of pure cinematic joy: a chase and comic fight through the streets of late 19th century London, full of knee-slapping slapstick and exhilarating invention.

Alas, if only the whole film were like that. Owen Wilson, of whom I’m a fan, is comparatively subdued. The script is simplistic and contrived. Actually, the filmmakers do not aim too high. They just want to deliver a happy hour-and-a-half. And even there, it is just hit-and-miss.slfr