As many kung fu enthusiasts can attest, Jackie Chan's Hong Kong films have always been more action-packed than his American movies — that is, until now.
The unstoppably energetic martial arts star has ramped up the energy in "Shanghai Knights," which opens this week alongside "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" and "Deliver Us From Eva." In the sequel to the cowboy action-comedy "Shanghai Noon," Chan even gets to recycle a fight sequence that had been scrapped in three other productions. (Click to see "Shanghai Knights" photos.)
"[This fight scene] with revolving doors I was supposed to do in 'Rush Hour,' 'Rush Hour 2' and 'The Tuxedo,' " Chan explained. "But at the end [the director and the producer] cut the budget. I [had] so many ideas, and they just cut, cut, cut. But ['Shanghai Knights' director] David Dobkin gave me a lot of time [to work on the scenes]. If you want it to look like a Jackie Chan movie, you have to give me time."
"David Dobkin and Jackie are real comfortable with improvising," explained co-star Owen Wilson, who like Chan has been active behind the scenes on many films. "Like in the scene with three revolving doors — this kind of fight sequence was an idea Jackie's had for 10 years. [Like him,] I'll have a funny idea that won't work for one movie and I'll go, 'Oh, maybe we can put it in this [other] movie.' It's just kind of [about] storing ideas or showing up on set and getting an idea for something."
"Shanghai Knights" reunites Chan and Wilson's cowboy characters from the first film, only this time they leave the Old West for England. "Knights" relies on martial arts action as well as Abbot and Costello-style humor. "We talked about that with David, the idea of an 'Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein'-type thing," Wilson said. "[With] these characters, you can put them in those absurd situations and have it be fun.
"We are actually talking about doing a third one," he continued. "I mean, this felt very different from 'Shanghai Noon' because it was just a totally new environment and new jokes to make."
Wilson said he'd like to see the next film set in Egypt. "The tone that's set up with these movies, it allows for some kind of real ridiculous jokes that you couldn't really get away with in other movies," he said. "But it can't get too ridiculous for these movies. And we don't ever let the fact that we are in, like, Victorian England to stand in the way of a joke."
Relationship humor drives "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," a romantic comedy starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey (click to see photos from the premiere), which is based on a book full of dating don'ts (see "Kate Hudson Relates 'How To Lose A Guy' To Her Own Love Life"). "Deliver Us From Eva," also in the romantic comedy category, stars LL Cool J as a suave Casanova type who is paid by three brothers-in-law of a girl named Eva, played by Gabrielle Union ("Bring It On"), to wine and dine her in an effort to keep her out of their lives. Union will appear alongside another rapper/actor, Will Smith, in this summer's "Bad Boys 2" (see "Bad Boys 2' Co-Star Gabrielle Union Says Flick Will Be 'Crazy Action").