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"Shanghai Knights"

DON'T EXPECT too much. It is just another Jackie Chan film. All complete with action of the martial kind, a wafer thin storyline, and some odd characters for Jackie to bash up and now, a partner who is a lovable wastrel. But it is all so fast paced that you may just have a good time watching all the nonsensical things the duo are up to.

A sequel to ``Shanghai Noon," where the action is set in the Wild West, here 18th century London is the backdrop and paying homage to certain characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chaplin, and yes Jack The Ripper, is Chan who gets here to avenge the death of his father, who is murdered. And who does that? It's the rather dashing Lord Rathbone, (Aiden Gillen... but you get to know about that much later) who wants to wrest the throne from queen Victoria and also make way for his ally to become King of China. If you think this is preposterous, well remember it is a Jackie Chan film.

In Touchstone Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment/presented Birnbaum/ Barber Production in association with A Jackie Chan Films Limited Production, Chan is Chon Wang, the sheriff of Carson City, Nevada, when he gets the news from his sister Lin (Fann Wong) that his father was murdered by rebels who have taken with them the imperial seal that had been in their custody for generations. So Wang heads for New York to get the money owed to him by Roy O Bannon (Owen Wilson) unaware that Roy is in trouble with the local police. They then head for London to find the parties responsible for the murder and theft. Wang's sister has the same ideas and they accost her there with the blue blood Rathbone as the prime suspect. She uncovers a worldwide conspiracy to murder the royal family but almost no one will believe her. With the help of a Scotland Yard inspector (Thomas Fischer) and a ten-year old urchin (Aaron Johnson) who, we are told, calls himself Charlie Chaplin, Wang gives the English a taste of his acrobatic fights even as he tries to keep Roy away from his `baby' sister.

Most of the scenes are not too funny, the slapstick sometimes getting out of hand, a lot of it is extremely silly, but then adventure is part of this genre of films. There are one or two fights that make Chan look really good. It helps that he has a worthy opponent in another former Hong Kong star, Donnie Yen.

Singaporean actress Wong is very charming especially when she topples Jack The Ripper off a bridge. Seeing London in all its glory is another plus point. Director David Dobkin is actually a student of style heavy filmmaker Ridley Scott. But you wouldn't make that out seeing this venture. The way he uses rock songs and overplays ``Singin In The Rain" for some fights (yes, Chan uses umbrellas while fighting) stretches the limits of humour. Written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the film is being distributed by Buena Vista Pictures.

CHITRA MAHESH

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