Seriously lightweight, this sequel to the better SHANGHAI NOON is very much a mish-mash of all the Jackie Chan films you've ever seen before, albeit with a rich backdrop: London of 1887. So far so good, and the UK capital does look very lavish and spellbinding, if perhaps a little too
clean and Americanised? When will films finally realise that the prostitutes of this period were in their 40s and looked at least twenty years older, thanks to all the diseases and hard lives they lived? Anyway, despite the setting – which is really only present so that the viewer can be inundated with dozens of 'cultural' jokes – it's very much business as usual, as Chan tracks down the murderer of his father, Wilson just kind of ambles along, lots of policemen and villains get involved and things end with a high-rise climax, just like in RUSH HOUR actually.
The only thing that makes this film worthwhile is Chan. While the action here is another step down from the kind of frenetic frenzies we remember from the 1980s, Chan's in his element, looking good, sounding good and engaging in some amusing homages to his inspirations – Buster Keaton, SINGING IN THE RAIN, Harold Lloyd and more. He even gets to visit the clock-tower set-piece of PROJECT A, except this time it's done on a far bigger scale, taking place inside Big Ben. My money's still on the earlier film as having the edge, though. Chan's martial arts are limited to some horseplay in some revolving doors and a few small scale fights, where he utilises dozens of props in his battle with multiple opponents – the market dash is another highlight and the emphasis is very much on the scenery rather than Chan's hand-to-hand skills. Saying that, there IS one decent martial arts fight against villain Donnie Yen, a Hong Kong hero in his own right; it is very well choreographed, but the editor keeps cutting away to mundane stuff with Wilson and other characters! Man, if they'd just stuck to a single ten-minute fight scene between these two guys, the film would have probably got the highest mark possible.
A big detraction in this film is Wilson, whose lovable persona seems to have been dropped in favour of a bitter bore, whose sole purpose in the film is to flirt with women and make anti-British jokes. Wilson is horribly bad and most British viewers will just want to beat the tar out of him after he just keeps going on and on about how the Americans won the Revolution, tea-drinking, and more
this is the kind of rubbish you hear on Internet forums, not Hollywood films! Still, no doubt American viewers will find it absolutely hilarious. What is even more offensive than the humour is the amount of historical inaccuracies present in the film; Charlie Chaplin becomes a street urchin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle suddenly isn't Scottish anymore – let alone the fact that he never was a police detective, the main villain is a poseur with a distinctly non-Victorian hairstyle
the list goes on. I have a horrible suspicion that the teen generation are going to grow up thinking this film spoke the truth, and that the name 'Sherlock Holmes' was invented by a Yankee cowboy
There are one or two entertaining jokes within the movie, including Fann Wong (pretty but oh-so-shallow)'s midnight encounter with Jack the Ripper, and a nice martial arts brawl taking place at Madame Tussaud's, complete with dummies falling to bits and more. But whenever Wilson's on screen, the whole thing just falls flat, and Chan's only half the martial artist he once was, so in hindsight I'd probably give this flick a miss.