I think by now, most people in this country are familiar with the work of Jackie Chan. It’s been a long time coming, if you ask me.

Chan has always been an acquired taste and had a fairly strong cult following in Kung Fu circles. It wasn’t until a string of mismatched buddy capers like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon brought his talent to the fore. Now everyone is familiar with his high-kicking antics and daredevil stunts. Some have even dipped into his back catalog for a greater understanding of his talents. Drunken Master II is the pinnacle of his greatness, in my opinion.

But with Chan’s momentum state-side, die hard fans were saddened to learn that he used as many as seven stunt doubles on his last film, The Tuxedo. Chan claimed it was the fault of the insurance companies standing behind the studio. He also cited his age and the physical limitations it’s placed on him.

Personally, I don’t think anyone should get too uptight about this. The man is steadily encroaching on 50. Can you imagine your Dad doing half the stuff Chan does? I rest my case.

Truth be told, some critics believe that Chan is steadily inventing a new style of stunt work that still looks amazing without being physically taxing. In a review of Shanghai Knights, Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum says, “Chan is now perfecting a stay-put style no less inventive in its construction. In place of a younger man’s gymnastics, he favors mature brain work, expressed in dazzling strategy.. His is a talent not so much cooling down as getting cool in middle age.” Incidentally, she gave the film a grade of “B”.

Truthfully, I would expect no less. The man is a great talent and can block a fight scene better than anyone in the business. Watching a good Chan fight scene is like watching a violent ballet. The choreography is beautiful in its skull-cracking elegance.

That being said, I still don’t think I will see Shanghai Knights. Not so much because of what Chan is or isn’t doing, but because I really don’t like to watch him in buddy films.

The buddy film as a genre is difficult to swallow as it is. Without fail, there is always some sort of division by class, race, or culture – but our leads overcome these obstacles and reach a plateau of grudging respect for one another. To force this routine on a Jackie Chan flick waters down what makes watching him movie a visceral thrill. The zing of the action is countersunk by the predictability of tired set ups and premises.

Take for example, the set up of Shanghai Knights. In the first movie, Chan was a Chinese guard in the the old west. This time around, let’s take him and his cowboy buddy and drop them straight in the middle of Victorian England! Will there be a precocious red-headed sidekick in the third installment?

Add to this mix Owen Wilson, and actor I am steadily beginning to dislike. Another film like Behind Enemy Lines or I Spy and he will have lost me as a fan.

I’m a big fan of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums – all films he had a hand in writing. I also thought he was the best thing about Zoolander, using his zen-cool to its most rewarding end. That’s why it’s so difficult for me to understand why he’s taking on so many fluff roles. He’s obviously smarter than this.

I understand that every so often, actors take “money pictures” to either raise their profile or bankroll personal projects that would never see studio backing. But like I said before, Wilson is skirting too closely toward making one too many of these pictures. A big screen version of Starsky and Hutch is on the horizon. While the casting of Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear is inspired casting, if this thing lands with a thud at the box office, Wilson better go into hiding for a while.

↓ Transcript
I don't know if I'm all that interested in seeing Shanghai Knights. Ever since Jackie Chan admitted to using stunt doubles, the magic just isn't there anymore.

Don't be so hasty. I've read some reviews and they say you can hardly tell the difference!

I think I would like to use a stunt double for this take.