Jackie Chan once again takes the family friendly route in this fantasy martial arts adventure that is both fun and exciting to watch.
Pu Songling is the biggest demon hunter in the land. However, he doesn’t hunt to kill but rather, in the case of certain demons, he rehabilitates them. When he comes across a man named Ning Caicheng, who is tracking down a jewel thief, Caicheng is stunned to find that the thief is a pig demon. Using his Yin and Yang brush, Pu is able to catch the demon and hold him captive. However, when the pig demon proves himself to be worthy, Pu decides to let him out as long as the demon agrees to join Pu and his band of friendly demons.
Meanwhile, a group of young girls, including a government official’s daughter, have been kidnapped. The perpetrator in question is Nie Xiaoqian, a woman who is actually a demon who intends to steal the souls of these girls. Pu and Ning decide to investigate at the request of the official. However, a wrench is thrown when it’s revealed that Ning had once fallen for Nie. A conflicted Ning decides to help Pu stop Nie with the hope that he will be able to help her in the same way Pu has rehabilitated the demons in his group.
Based on a collection of stories from classical Chinese author Pu Songling (1940-1715), there are those who feel that from the trailer that this may be one of the worst films in Jackie Chan’s filmography. However, if one were to come into the film with an open mind, they will see that is farther from the truth. After all, Jackie Chan is someone who in his mid-sixties is trying new things hence, he stars in this family-friendly fantasy that is reminiscent of films like A Chinese Ghost Story and even Ghostbusters, only replace the ghost trap with a huge calligraphy brush used to trap demons.
Chan looks like he is having lots of fun in the film as the author himself, who seems to be the kind of cheerful hunter who’d rather give those he captures a chance to be good instead of having to resort to killing them. While the demons themselves are obvious CGI, they are reminiscent of Slimer, the likable ghost from the Ghostbusters franchise. The interactions between Chan and his merry band of demons are quite fun to watch, such as the fairy-like Breezy, who can pull off a technique seen in the Men in Black franchise to the newest member of the group, the Hog Goblin, who proves his mettle in the film.
Elane Zhong brings a sense of evil and follows in the footsteps of the likes of Brigitte Lin, Li Bingbing, and Fan Binging when it comes to playing demon goddesses. As Nie Xiaoqian, she brings that evil to the role when it comes to kidnapping the girls and making herself known, especially through the eyes of lawman Ning Caicheng, played by Ethan Juan. Ning and Nie’s love story is reminiscent of films like A Chinese Ghost Story and The Bride with White Hair. However, the most shocking thing happens as just when you think the movie about to end, a major twist is taken and just keeps the film going despite an over the top abundance of CGI effects. At this point, with it being the tail end of the film, it’s pretty forgivable.
The Knight of Shadows is definitely not Jackie Chan’s worst film, but the general Chan fans may not enjoy his take on the family-friendly route and would rather see him go his old school ways. However, those days are long gone, so fans should see this film with an open mind. They may end up enjoying it, especially with the kids.
WFG RATING: C+
Well Go USA presents a Sparkle Roll Media production in association with Golden Shore Films & Television, Beijing Yaolai Film and Television Culture Media Co., Ltd., Hengda Film and Television Culture Co., Ltd., and iQIYI Motion Pictures. Director: Vash. Producers: Shan Yong and Agan. Writers: Liu Boham and Jian Wen, based on a collection of stories by Pu Songling. Cinematography: Choi Young-Hwan. Editing: Wong Hoi.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Ethan Juan, Elane Zhong, Austin Lin, Lin Po-Hung, Qiao Shan, Charles Luu, Lance Luu, Mark Luu, Kingdom Yuen, Pan Changjiang.