Rush Hour 4 is reportedly in the works, but the Jackie Chan sequel that should be underway is the long-discussed Shanghai Dawn. After starring in Hong Kong action cinema in the 1970s and 1980s, Jackie Chan achieved his long-sought-after success in Hollywood near the end of the 20th century. After first making a splash with Rumble in the Bronx in 1996, Chan fully broke out in the 1998 blockbuster action-comedy Rush Hour, which paired him with Chris Tucker for the movie’s cop comedy hijinks. Rush Hour‘s runaway success also spawned two sequels, Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3.
At the Red Sea Film Festival, Chan announced Rush Hour 4 was in development, but Rush Hour was not the only buddy comedy hit Chan had at the turn of the century. 2000’s Shanghai Noon partnered him with Owen Wilson in the Old West and spawned its 2003 sequel Shanghai Knights. A third film in the series, Shanghai Dawn, had also periodically been discussed in the years since Shanghai Knights. Rush Hour 4 had its long series of false starts, and while Rush Hour 4 seemed a lot more likely to happen, Shanghai Dawn was the unmade Jackie Chan sequel that should have been given the go-ahead.
The Rush Hour Franchise Has Run Its Course
When Rush Hour was first released, the buddy chemistry of Jackie Chan as Inspector Lee and Chris Tucker as Rush Hour‘s Detective James Carter felt fresh and unique and set anticipation high for their return in Rush Hour 2. That film flipped the fish-out-of-water concept of the first movie with its Hong Kong setting and brought in the franchise’s most formidable villain in Hu Li (Zhang Ziyi). Rush Hour 3, unfortunately, not only offered nothing new beyond the same tired Rush Hour template but a lesser version of it with far weaker action scenes.
The Rush Hour franchise only briefly came back to life with the short-lived Rush Hour TV series in 2016, but it was Rush Hour 3 that illustrated there was a ceiling on how far the franchise’s formula could carry it. Rush Hour 3 did surprisingly little to take advantage of its Parisian setting (such as enlisting the District 13 cast to save its action scenes), while Chan and Tucker did not have the same caliber of comedic material to work with as they had in the first two Rush Hour movies. Altogether, Rush Hour 3 showed how much the original Rush Hour‘s energy had dissipated from the franchise.
The Shanghai Franchise Has More Potential
The Shanghai movies had a similar buddy comedy conceit as the Rush Hour trilogy, but they also added more creativity and variety to give each a distinct novelty. This is something that Shanghai Dawn could easily build upon. Shanghai Noon‘s Old West setting was the perfect complement to the comedic banter between Chan and Owen Wilson, as well as Chan’s Hong Kong-style action scenes. Shanghai Knights changed things up even more by bringing Chon Wang and Roy O’Bannon to Victorian London, along with introducing Wang’s sister Chon Lin (Fann Wong). Shanghai Knights also greatly elevated the action from Shanghai Noon, even pitting Jackie Chan against Donnie Yen as the villainous Wu Chow.
The Shanghai series took more extensive advantage of everything Jackie Chan was known for and skilled at, while their deliberate anachronisms were half the fun of both movies. Shanghai Dawn‘s 19th century (or early 20th century) time frame makes virtually any new setting a whole new and exciting experience for the franchise. Most importantly, the time gap since Shanghai Knights would effectively make it a legacy sequel with adventure elements, bringing back an older Chon Wang and Roy O’Bannon in a potentially much wackier spin on the Logan formula.
Why Rush Hour 4 Is Happening Before Shanghai Noon 3
As for why Rush Hour 4 is proceeding ahead of Shanghai Dawn, it comes down to the commercial viability of the former. While both Shanghai movies were very well received, each was also a modest success at the box office. Compared to the Rush Hour movies, the Shanghai movies built their reputation gradually as they grew into cult classics. Despite the box office downturn of Rush Hour 3, the Rush Hour movies still achieved the higher grosses of the two series.
In general, the Rush Hour movies also penetrated the cultural zeitgeist to a greater extent than the Shanghai films. The existence of Rush Hour 3 itself proved that, with Shanghai Dawn never reaching any real momentum towards actually being made. The background of each franchise showed that there was simply a greater behind-the-scenes urgency for Rush Hour to return to theaters than the Shanghai movies.
Will Shanghai Noon 3 Ever Actually Happen?
With Chan apparently prioritizing Rush Hour 4, the chances of Shanghai Dawn happening seem relatively low. With Jackie Chan’s countless harrowing stunts having left him with a laundry list of injuries, that would be a factor for him to consider in whether he would want to do Shanghai Dawn. There are also the usual issues of scripting, budgeting, scheduling, and other logistics of filmmaking, along with whether Owen Wilson would have any interest in returning.
That being said, the fact that Chan was speaking about making Rush Hour 4 would indicate that his many injuries were not factors he sees as impediments. Indeed, Chan continued performing impressive stunts and fight scenes well into the 21st century. Still, while Shanghai Dawn is certainly not an impossibility, it also does not appear to have the same kind of immediate attention behind it as Rush Hour 4.
Whether Rush Hour 4 finally brings Lee and Carter back into action is a matter of getting its ducks in a row. With Jackie Chan having largely left American movies behind, and given Chan is nearing his 70s, he may see Rush Hour 4 as a vehicle to formally bow out of Hollywood with the franchise that started his Western career. Be that as it may, Shanghai Dawn not getting off the ground would be arguably the most glaring missed opportunity of Jackie Chan’s career. If Jackie Chan is finally ready to say goodbye to Hollywood, few final rodeos would be more fitting than one last ride with Chon Wang and Roy O’Bannon.
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