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Chan, Wilson doing same old thing in Shanghai Knights

In the beginning there was Rumble In The Bronx, then came Rush Hour. After that, things got a bit repeative.

This could easily describe Jackie Chan’s career thus far. With the release of Shanghai Knights, Chan sticks to the same proven formula.

The film opens during a cold winter in the Forbidden City. Inside a temple, Chon Lin (Fann Wong), Chon Wang’s (Jackie Chan) baby sister, spies on her father as he admires the precious Imperial Seal. When a group of mercenaries and future-lordship Rathbone storm the temple, steal the seal and murder their father, Lin swears to take revenge.

Chon is the new sheriff in Carson City, Nev. Upon hearing the bad news from his sister, he heads to New York to make a connection trip to London, England, because Lin has followed Rathbone there. It is here where Chon finds Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson) at a hotel. Roy has invested money in the zeppelin industry, but Chon has come to claim his share of the gold. Unable to make that large of a withdrawal, Roy agrees to help catch Rathbone.

The sequel moves the dynamic duo to London, where they do the same schtick (Chan somersaults, Wilson wisecracks). They also enlist the help of the young Charlie Chaplin and police inspector Artie Doyle. Artie decides to use Roy’s name for a fictional detective: Sherlock Holmes.

Shanghai Knights features, what could be some of Chan’s more impressive moves, specifically during his battle with the British police inside a revolving door and a fight sequence that tips its hat to Singin’ in the Rain.

A degree of empowerment has been shifted to the film’s femme fatale, but Wilson’s jokes still work on a success ratio of 1-to-20.

Both Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights could easily be passed off as prequels to the Rush Hour franchise. A smart-mouth-know-it-all (Wilson/Chris Tucker) is forced to team up with “the fast hands of the East” (Chan), in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

A major set back of the script involves the revenge plot, which, even though it is the driving force of the story, fails to maintain its focus and becomes too secondary in nature.

Making matters worst is the 1887 setting that still doesn’t excuse why Roy continues to talk like he’s about to catch a wave or why a British street urchin is referred to as “the little tramp.”

Anyone who tends to get hysterically obsessive about chronological accuracy will go racing to Google to track down answers to a wide assortment of questions, such as: When was the first zeppelin flight? When was Charlie Chaplin born? In what year did Queen Victoria celebrate the 50th anniversary of her coronation?

David Dobkin directs, though there is no sign of a controlling hand. The outtakes at the end play as part of the film — anarchy without the fun.

Those who enjoyed the original Shanghai Noon will no doubt appreciate what this lightweight follow-up has to offer. And for those who still have a bitter taste in their mouth following The Tuxedo, this is not Chan’s redemption.

All things considered, Shanghai Knights is mediocre entertainment at best, and it’s probably better suited for home viewing than a trip to the multiplex.

Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 107 min.

Contact Pablo Saldanaat