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Buddies again for 'Knights'

February 03, 2003|Lynn Smith

Preview audiences were so pleased with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson as an innocent imperial guard abroad and an incompetent, womanizing bank robber in the 2000 comedy-western "Shanghai Noon" that producers started thinking about a sequel before the first film was released.

Due in theaters Friday, "Shanghai Knights" follows the unlikely partners to London, where Chan's Chon Wang (pronounced almost like "John Wayne") and Wilson's Roy O'Bannon use their physical and verbal skills to settle a score.

Even though it was a buddy comedy, "Shanghai Noon," which took in almost $57 million in U.S. theaters and about the same in home video sales, marked a turning point for both actors in terms of their individual potential. Longtime Hong Kong star Chan had established himself with U.S. audiences as a good-natured action hero with remarkable martial arts moves in "Rumble in the Bronx" (1996) and as the fish-out-of-water partner of Chris Tucker in the blockbuster "Rush Hour." After "Noon," he reteamed with Tucker on "Rush Hour 2," and starred in "The Tuxedo" and "Highbinders," which is slated to reach U.S. theaters this fall.

Texas native Wilson, who had co-written with Wes Anderson the offbeat comedies "Bottle Rocket" (1996) and "Rushmore" (1998), followed "Noon" in theaters with a smaller part in "Meet the Parents," then tried his hand as an action figure in "Behind Enemy Lines," which grossed almost $59 million. He reteamed with Anderson as actor, writer and producer for "The Royal Tennenbaums" and co-starred with Eddie Murphy in the disappointing "I Spy" action comedy. His next projects will be "The Big Bounce" and "Starsky and Hutch," in which he plays the latter.

David Dobkin, a commercials director whose first feature was "Clay Pigeons," saddled up for "Shanghai Knights," which also stars actress and singer Fann Wong as the femme fatale.

Noting that Jackie Chan enjoys a reputation for doing his own stunts, Wilson has claimed that for the sequel he holds his own as the actor who never does any.

-- Lynn Smith

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