Boogie 'Knights' in London

Owen Wilson has an unkempt blond shag that, worryingly, suggests he whips out a photo of Rod Stewart every time he visits the hairdresser. His inflated lips look like a copyright infringement of the Rolling Stone's tongue logo. And if the Egyptians ever get around to repairing the Sphinx, they'd do well to sculpt Mr. Wilson's extraordinary nose.

It's not an unhandsome face, but it is a peculiar one. Get used to it. Wilson is the future face of film comedy. In "Shanghai Knights" it's the comic chops of the Texan - more than the karate chops of Jackie Chan - that make this sequel superior to "Shanghai Noon."

It would have been easy to rehash the 2000 comedy featuring the duo of unlikely cowboys. But instead of making, say, "Shanghai Afternoon," screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar cannily keep the "fish out of water" conceit of the first movie fresh by transplanting the duo to Victorian England. Suffice to say that the mechanical plot entails avenging a murder and preventing an aristocrat from assassinating the royal family. Clearly, the journey is more important than the story's destination - as long as there are plenty of fight sequences along the way.

And Chan's set pieces don't disappoint. His Buster Keatonesque humor in "How'd he do that?" sequences suggest that, in his previous life, Chan was a Looney 'toon.

The film isn't perfect. Aidan Gillan, whose hair looks as if it's been blow dried under a Van de Graaff generator, sadly lets down the grand tradition of British villains who can chew scenery like a beaver on steroids.

Thank goodness, then, for Wilson. When his naive surf-dude persona expresses awestruck incredulity, only a curmudgeon could stifle laughter.

Rated PG-13 for violence and sexual content.

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