Jackie Chan in London in ‘Shanghai Knights’ on Hulu

Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson star in the lightweight martial arts comedy 'Shanghai Knights,' which sends them to 19th century London.

Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson bring the Far East and the old West to 19th century London as they search for Chan’s sister (Fann Wong) in Shanghai Knights (2003), a high spirited but dumbed-down sequel to Shanghai Noon. A constant barrage of pop-culture references (from 1960s British Invasion rock tunes to appearances by 19th century figures Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack the Ripper, and a young Charles Chaplin as the Artful Dodger) and goofy comic pieces right out of a Scooby-Doo cartoon stand in for actual jokes.

Still, Owen Wilson is an amiable con man and coward with a heart of gold and Jackie Chan has toned down his mugging nicely, reacting to Wilson’s antics with the eye-rolling frustration of an old friend.

The highlights are still Jackie’s gymnastic action chops, even cut-up Hollywood-style as they are, and the great Donnie Yen makes for a formidable opponent as Jackie turns his sets and props into handy implements. If writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar had just written him a story, think how much more fun it could have been.

Rated PG-13

Streams for a limited time on Hulu

On Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Shanghai Noon / Shanghai Knights [Blu-ray]
Shanghai Noon / Shanghai Knights [DVD]

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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