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<I>Shanghai Knights</I> DVD to Restore Fight Scenes

5 Apr, 2003 By: Fred Topel

The biggest difference between Jackie Chan's Hong Kong movies and his American ones is the length of the fight scenes. His foreign films have brawls that run for 5, 10, sometimes even 20 minutes. But American producers worry too many long fight scenes will hurt the pacing of the story.

As a compromise, Shanghai Knights director David Dobkin is including full-length versions of three fight scenes on the DVD, which streets July 22 (prebook June 10). Now fans will see scenes in their entirety of Chan fighting in a wax museum, a library full of valuable artifacts, and on a barge opposite martial artist Donnie Yen.

“The library fight is about three minutes longer, and it's extraordinary, but in the middle of the second act it was really hurting the movie,” Dobkin said. “[The Donnie Yen fight], there's about a minute- and-a-half more of that. It's amazing, but the problem with that was you knew there's a whole other fight coming up and you just couldn't [wait so long before the climax].”

Dobkin sacrificed these scenes so he could let other scenes run longer.

“[In other films], everybody takes a little out of every fight, so you end up with compromise, compromise, compromise. I said, ‘The market chase is going to be what it is, full length. The sword fight at the end of the movie is going to be what it's supposed to be in its full length.' And we allowed those scenes to play long so you had something in the beginning that really made you sit down and get into the movie, and something at the end that delivered.”

The director stands by his theatrical cut of the film, but appreciates the opportunity DVD allows to share such worthwhile moments.

“I believe all the best work is in the film, but with Jackie it's a matter of degrees on some of the stuff,” he said. “There is some absolutely great stuff that just was too long, and those were the last cuts we made in the movie.”

The DVD also will include deleted scenes that explain some continuity gaps between Knights and its predecessor, Shanghai Noon. The most observed gap is that no mention is made of Roy O'Bannon's (Owen Wilson) marriage to Falling Leaves at the end of the first film.

Even though Chan's movies are famous for including outtakes reels at the end, Dobkin promised even more bloopers for the DVD.

“We have four hours of outtakes in this movie. The irony is the entire time I was shooting, everyone was worried we weren't going to have enough outtakes,” he said.

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