The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang 神探蒲松龄之兰若仙踪 (2019) - China
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
Jackie Chan goes back to what his loveable charismatic and comedic self in the heavily CGI effects retelling of the origins of “A Chinese Ghost Story”. In “The Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang”, the animated effects often overshadow the real actors and that’s a shame when the tragic love story is turned into an inferno of flying dragons and demons. It’s unfortunate as the whole film is light hearted and vaguely entertaining as Chan plays to his strength with good comic effect. However, a lack of martial arts prowess from Chan resulted in a film that feels half baked and often neglected in its details. It’s unique Chinese humour will likely alienate Western and Hong Kong audience alike.
Jackie Chan continues to headline this action comedy fantasy film with good presence throughout. The film works whenever Chan is on-screen to provide the comic timing, but the moment he is off-screen is where it all goes down the failed experiment. Elaine Zhong is no Joey Wong in the famed ghostly role as she lacks the electrifying beautiful often associated with the role. Ethan Juan is wasted in the role that Leslie Cheung made simply classic. Juan is good looking, but lack any sort of meaningful character to be a true heart throb. Jackie Chan’s regular Lin Peng flair best in a short cameo as the demon villain and Taiwanese pop star Austin Lin tries hard to be playful and ends up with plenty of annoyance.
All in all, “The Knights of the Shadow” falls short of both the Chinese commercial market given its box office failure and fails to capture the imagination and connection with the international audience. Jackie Chan is the “Lone Ranger” and his age is starting to show, but he is still terribly charismatic to a degree. Putting politics aside, Chan is now entering retirement age and closer to 70 than 60. It’s about time to see Chan in a good script with less stunts and action and more comedy for the ages.
I rated it 5/10
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