A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shanghai Knights is the sequel to Shanghai Noon and involves the same kind of martial arts violence that appeared in the first movie. Characters are hung, killed with arrows, and stabbed with daggers and martial arts pratfalls and sight gags appear in abundance. Owen Wilson's character starts out as a prostitute, and frequently makes off-color jokes about sex and frequent stereotypical jokes about the differences between American, Chinese, and British culture. He also smokes a cigar in one scene, and appears drunk after downing several shots of liquor.
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What's the story?
Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson reprise their roles as serious Chinese Imperial Guard turned sheriff Chon Wang and amiable bandit turned waiter/gigolo Roy O'Bannon. In the first film, the princess and the treasure the heroes won at the happy end are swiftly dispatched and Roy and Chon are off to London to avenge the murder of Chon's father and retrieve the great seal stolen from the emperor of China. They arrive just as the celebration of Queen Victoria's 50 years on the throne is about to begin. Chon's sister Lin (Fann Wong) is in jail for attempting to kill Rathbone (Aiden Gillen), the Queen's cousin. Our heroes have to get Lin out of jail, get back the seal, and stop the plots to kill off the nine people between Rathbone and the crown and usurp the emperor of China. Their adventures include comedic encounters with policemen, prostitutes, Jack the Ripper, a street urchin/pickpocket, a newfangled contraption called the automobile, and Stonehenge.
Is it any good?
There are no surprises in SHANGHAI KNIGHTS, but that's only because it delivers exactly what we expect: a cheerfully anachronistic buddy/action/comedy movie starring Chan and Wilson. Every few minutes it throws in either a classic pop standard, an impossibly agile fight scene, some offbeat surfer cowboy comments, some fish out of water humor, or some combination of all of them. In other words, it's pretty much just like the first movie, except that it's set in London.
The action scenes are ably staged, especially a marvelous battle with Keystone Cops-style policemen in a revolving door, a fight in a fruit market, and some masterful acrobatics with that most British of props, the umbrella. The comedy is more uneven, though Wilson's way with a line is always deliciously offbeat. Wong has a dazzling smile and a lethal kick, always a good combination to have on hand.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the puzzle box Wang's father sent him, and why it was important to show patience before receiving the message. Why was that particular message so important to him?
Look up information about Charlie Chaplin, Jack the Ripper, Queen Victoria, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous creations, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
What kinds of stereotypes can you spot in this movie?
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