I'll admit I haven't seen the Shanghai Noon, the forerunner to Knights - but any argument that it actually matters doesn't hold any water. The references to the first film are either pure throwaways or simple enough it's no strain to understand them.
Again, it's Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan in the 1800's. The story quickly moves from China to Nevada to New York City to London, our primary setting as implied by the weak pun of the title. The justification for all this travel is the standard revenge/get-the-bad-guy plot, wherein Chon Wang (Chan) leans his father has been murdered, and a precious artifact stolen. There is some matter of intrigue to up the stakes, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Meanwhile, Roy O'Bannon (Wilson) falls for Wang's sister, to Wang's displeasure.
The action/comedy/buddy genre is full of poor attempts at films - perfunctory plots that take a back seat to the gags, motivations that only exist in the mind of the writer, and so on. Shanghai Knights is no exception there. Yet, it comes nowhere near the last Chan-starrer I saw, the hopelessly inane The Tuxedo. Chan is always amazing with the pure inventiveness of his fighting sequences, but after a while, we do get used to the kind of inventiveness we see. If you like his style, you won't be disappointed.
The humor is decent, and there is a sense, albeit not strong, of the main characters. The others - especially the orphan boy - are such annoying caricatures all I could do was hope for them to go away somehow. And that's my general opinion of the film itself. There's worse dreck out there, but this particular dreck neither excels at its dreckness, nor stands out in any other way.
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