2000's SHANGHAI NOON, in which Jackie Chan played a member of the Chinese Imperial Guard who improbably but entertainingly wound up teamed with Owen Wilson's Zen train robber, was a source of such cheerful good action fun that a sequel seemed borderline inevitable.
Sure enough, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS is a perfectly natural follow-up. Original writers Alfred Gough & Miles Millar have doubled their fish-out-of-water story element by taking both Chan's Chon Wang (pronounced by most people as "John Wayne") and Wilson's Roy O'Bannon to London this time out. Wang seeks to avenge his father's murder while trying to keep up with his sister Lin (Fann Wong), who is intent on punishing the killer herself. Roy wants to demonstrate his friendship for Wang and avoid the trouble he's gotten into back in New York. The bad guys Lord Rathbone (Aiden Gillen) and Wu Chan (Donnie Yen) are working together to help one another steal their country's respective thrones.
The script is so fluffy that sometimes it seems to take its own workings for granted, trusting a little too much in the admittedly abundant appeal of Chan and Wilson. Chan's agility and warmth are as beguiling as usual, and it's a treat to see him square off against the impressive Yen. Wilson, meanwhile, is so at home in the sublimely-at-home-in-his-own-universe Roy that he's consistently funny and welcome company. Wong is lovely and graceful, and Gillen has an eager light in his eyes that makes him a vital adversary. Thomas Fisher, as a detail-minded Scotland Yard inspector, seems to be channeling both the late Graham Chapman and Peter Cook.
Dobkin does a good job of blending real British locations with ringer locales in the Czech Republic, giving the movie a solid period look. He doesn't entirely get the film to flow the script establishes showcase moments with such dedication that the results are rather episodic but SHANGHAI KNIGHTS is ultimately undemanding, likable fare that's reminiscent of buddy adventure comedies of yore.