Directed by David Dobkin.
Written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.
Starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Donnie Yen and Fann Wong.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 2/10/03
Well, it is the dog days of movies, so it
gets harder and harder to find good quality mainstream fare this
time of year as the Oscar nominations quickly approach. Don’t
worry, Derwin--I’m still gonna catch
“Final Destination 2”, but in
the meantime, I caught up with the sequel to the so-so
Jackie Chan is back again as Chon Wang
(sounds a lot like “John Wayne”), now sheriff of Carson City, Nevada
in 1887. He is just hangin’ out when the movie opens, as he learns
that his father has been murdered by a rich Londoner named Rathbone
(Aiden Gillen) who is bent on ruling England. So, with his sister
Lin (Fann Wong), he needs to get to England to track down Rathbone
and retrieve a mystical seal...but first, he needs help getting
there from his old friend Roy (Owen Wilson), who is living in New
York City and is holding the gold that the twosome discovered in the
first film. At least, so Chon thinks! Once the three heroes get to
England, they face trouble not only with Rathbone, but with
Rathbone’s mysterious partner (Donnie Yen), the inspectors at
Scotland Yard, and...a lot of guards with swords.
You never really go to see Jackie’s films
for the plot, but at least the plot here is interesting. Otherwise,
you get one of Jackie’s best American films yet. The martial arts
legend turns 50 next year, and although he is starting to look a bit
weathered in the face, you wouldn’t know it by all the stuntwork, as
he is in top form once again with his amazing combination of
athleticism, slight of hand and the ability to make us laugh at all
that is going on. All of the set action pieces work here, helped
immeasurably by an amped-up set of sound effects and good-looking
visuals around the fight scenes. Wong is pretty hot and it helps
that she throws a mean roundhouse; Yen is not featured enough here
(he was in “Iron Monkey”, way back in the early 90s before a
re-release here in the US) but his end fight scene is pretty good.
Gillen is serviceable, but his biggest problem is that he looks
shockingly similar to Alec Baldwin. So much so, in fact, that I
spent the first 15 minutes of the movie wondering just what the hell
Alec Baldwin is doing right now, since I haven’t seen him in a film
in quite some time.
And, Owen Wilson is doing in “Shanghai
Knights” what he does best--stand aside, be the sidekick, and
provide the comic relief. Much like he was in the first “Shanghai”
film, or in his better comic turns in
“Meet the Parents” and
“Rushmore”, the guy is meant to do comedy, and not much more. Some
of his deliveries in “Shanghai Knights” are just flat-out
hilarious. These talents, plus his writing credits with Wes
Anderson (“The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Bottle Rocket” and “Rushmore”),
make me think the guy might consider just doing comedy, since he is
so good at it. I just don’t buy him in films like
Lines”, since nothing about Owen Wilson screams “action hero”, but
he is solid here.
There is not enough of Yen, the acting on
the part of nearly everyone that is not a lead performer is quite
poor, and the script’s reliance on making every character’s name
some part of English or American history becomes tiresome...but,
this is still a great time at the movies. The packed house that
watched with me this weekend was quite entertained as well. Check
it out if you like your action / adventure with a little
comedy...and, don’t forget to stay for some hilarious outtakes!!
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard