AFTER taming the Wild West in the hit comedy Shanghai Noon, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) and Roy O'Bannon (Owen Wilson) are back in the saddle, but off the range. This time, they're out to settle a score in civilised London in the sequel, Shanghai Knights.

When a Chinese rebel murders Wang's estranged father and escapes to England, Wang and Roy make their way to London with revenge on their minds. Wang's sister, Lin (Fann Wong), has the same idea, and uncovers a worldwide conspiracy to murder the royal family, but almost no one will believe her.

With the help of a kindly Scotland Yard Inspector (Thomas Fischer) and a 10-year-old street urchin (Aaron Johnson), the acrobatic Wang (Chan) gives Victorian Britain a kick in the pants as he attempts to avenge his father's death and keep the romance-minded Roy away from his sister.

Hilarious escapades and hair-raising adventure await our heroes as they do for Big Ben, Madame Tussaud's and British convention what they did for the American Old West. While Chan's character was the fish out of water in the American West in Shanghai Noon, the British backdrop of Shanghai Knights turns both Wang and O'Bannon into strangers in a strange land.

"Victorian England had not been exposed to kung fu, so we thought we could have some fun surprising the unsuspecting Brits with it," says screenwriter Alfred Gough. "We also wanted to lend the story a modern sensibility by utilising landmarks that are still here today, and peppering it with now famous characters who remain part of contemporary culture. It's a wink to a legendary time period that has inspired so many films."

Chan found inspiration in reprising a character he clearly enjoys playing and which connects with a broad audience. "I really liked getting back into this role and teaming again with Owen," remarks Chan. "We became friends during the making of Shanghai Noon and it's easy now for us to find our rhythm and play off each other. He takes care of the funny lines and I handle the action, which is often funny as well.

"We're different in a lot of ways, Owen and me," continues Chan. "Owen's comedy comes from dialogue, while mine is physical. So we play up the differences between our characters in the film my character, Chon Wang, does everything by the book, stands up for discipline, loyalty, and honour. Owen's character is constantly fooling around, always cheating people."

Wilson, who reprises the role of Roy O'Bannon, was equally geared up to take another spin in this turn-of-the-century action-comedy vehicle.

"I got involved right from the beginning, talking about ideas and various scenarios," says Wilson. "I wasn't so much interested in character evolvement; I just wanted to keep it funny and fresh. So we've put even more riffs in this one, and the comedy is broader.

"We had a good time making the first film, so I looked forward to doing this one," continues Wilson. "Having grown up with two brothers, I enjoy the relationship aspect of the script. And it's a pleasure acting opposite Jackie. He has a certain innocence and sweetness that works beautifully for his character. Wang is dependable, reliable and trustworthy. Just about everything Roy isn't."

"Roy is a somewhat cowardly con man, not brave by instinct," explains Wilson. "He's tried, and failed, to speculate his way to a fortune, and is in much the same circumstance as he was when he first met Wang. But he musters the courage to lend help when he learns there's trouble afoot in London."

April 8, 2003 09:30