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Thread: Shanghai Knights Script Review
08-11-2002, 04:17 PM #1
Shanghai Knights Script Review
disclaimer-this is not my review, I have not read the script. It is the review by a guy calling himself Hollyfeld.
"After reading the November 19, 2001 draft of Shanghai Knights, written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar, two things become abundantly clear: 1. the sequel to Shanghai Noon could very well be as entertaining as the original, and 2. Owen Wilson does not ad lib all his dialogue. Both of these come as something as a surprise, since the first Shanghai was among the more entertaining action films of the last few years (and probably Jackie Chan's best American film to date), and because Wilson's character has a singular, goofy charm that on the surface appears almost impossible to write in the first place, let alone recreate in sequel form. So although Shanghai Knights does suffer from occasional, perhaps inevitable problems, this early (though judging from the trailer reasonably accurate) screenplay bodes very well indeed for us moviegoers.
As with the original, Shanghai Knights begins in China's Forbidden City, where Chong Wang's (Jackie Chan, still occasionally referred to as John Wayne) father, Keeper of the Imperial Seal (Roy: 'That's what I love about China, everybody's job description is so damn mysterious.') is promptly murdered by an English diplomat named Rathbone, who takes the Seal with him to England. Wang's sister, Chong Lin, vows revenge, and follows Rathbone to England to exact it. Wang receives word of his father's murder, and after picking up Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) in New York, follows her across the Atlantic to help. There they team up with a young Charlie Chaplin and a not-so-young Detective Artie Doyle, and square off against Rathbone, China's evil would-be Emperor, Wu Yip (the glorious Donnie Yen), and a slew of Boxers, whom you may remember from a certain rebellion. Entertainment ensues.
A similar concept drove the original Shanghai Noon, where a crime in the Forbidden City drives a warrior to the West, which ironically is East of China - the only difference on the surface is how much further West (and, again, East) the heroes travel this time. 1887 London makes an idyllic location for a period action film, and no potential set piece is wasted... from a grandly conceptualized duel inside Big Ben, paying homage both to Safety Last and Chan's own Project A, to a somewhat sillier Stonehenge scene (Wang: 'Who would leave a pile of stones in the middle of a field?' Roy: 'I don't know, John, these people are nuts.'). Though occasionally underutilized -in this draft, Jack the Ripper is mentioned on several occasions, but only shows up for a brief, all but pointless cameo - these sequences result in an even quirkier feel that the original. While Shanghai Noon was merely a contemporary Western, Shanghai Knights feels more like a conceptual piece of historical fiction, like Time After Time without the time machine, or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the script for which to be reviewed shortly) with real characters. There is a sense of wonder in seeing a young Charlie Chaplin being inspired by the fancy footwork of Jackie Chan, and not, as fate would have it, the other way around, just as there is a definite charm to seeing Arthur Conan Doyle actually solve a mystery himself.
And throughout all this at this gentle ribbing at history, Chong Wang and Roy O'Bannon continue to be themselves - Wang almost ridiculously over-qualified for any situation (one wonders how the hell his father could be so disappointed in him, really), and Roy equally under-qualified. If there is a serious flaw in Shanghai Knights, in fact, it is simply that Roy seems to have almost nothing to do. Unlike the original, in which he at least had information to impart to Wang, this draft of Shanghai Knights finds him completely out of his element, and almost entirely without a practical purpose throughout much of the script. Though always laugh-out-loud amusing, a difficult feat in screenplay format, his plans are almost always ignored by the more capable Wang, and much of his assistance seems almost inconsequential. Shortly before attempting to infiltrate an English party, for example, Roy attempts to teach Wang how to adopt an English accent. Roy is predictably incapable of doing this, of course, whilst Wang is naturally a natural. Were it not for his great personal charm, and a somewhat tacked-on love subplot with Chong Lin, it almost seems that he could have been left out of the script entirely... not that anyone actually wants that. Some effort seems to be made to knock Wang down a notch, including a conversation between Roy and Lin regarding his terrible sense of direction (Roy: 'You know, one time I sent him over a mountain range.' Lin: 'One time I sent him over the Great Wall. He was lost for three days.'), but this knowledge of his character never comes into play later on. As such, it seems like a wasted exchange. Regardless, Roy O'Bannon is now officially a sidekick, having cast the role of partner aside sometime between the end of the last film and the beginning of this one.
Still, Roy reminds me of Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer - though he seems to serve no real purpose, his heart is always in the right place, and he often finds himself being brave in spite of his better judgment. And it is this kind of heart that makes a sequel like Shanghai Knights so welcome. Not just another by-the-numbers remake of an original concept, Knights takes the world of the original and expands upon it, upping the ante whilst remembering that, above all, it was the charm of Shanghai Noon that made it so much more memorable than similar fare. Though the increased scope and personal touches are occasionally at odds with each other, in turns detracting from Roy's character, or shortchanging certain bits of potential giddiness (like a classic swordfight with Jack the Ripper, perhaps?), the overall effect of this draft is one of absolute joy. At the time, Shanghai Noon marked a high-point in American action entertainment - the sequel looks poised to continue that tradition."
Just thought that you might be interested.
08-11-2002, 05:09 PM #2
i wish i had read all that... god its loooong"A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism." / Carl Sagan
08-11-2002, 07:59 PM #3Originally posted by Gaumont
i wish i had read all that... god its loooong"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
08-11-2002, 11:49 PM #4
Where's Cliff Notes when you need them?
08-12-2002, 02:55 AM #5
.. i did not read also....not because it is too long ... because i want to watch the finished movie ....
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