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SHANGHAI KNIGHTS

About The Production
"I wanted to give this movie a ‘foggy London Towne' feel,” says director David Dobkin, "and give a nod to movies like ‘Young Frankenstein' and the classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries, but also achieve a modern sensibility. It's all in good fun and good humor – the sort of thing audiences used to see at a Saturday matinee.” 

The person responsible for achieving the director's vision was director of photography Adrian Biddle. "Adrian is a genius, one of the best cinematographers alive,” says Dobkin. "For this film I wanted the light quality of a period film combined with a contemporary look and sensibility. I wanted to control the color palate in every scene and for the flesh tones to look great, for the actors to look like movie stars. I knew that was going to be a tall order with all the night shooting, but I also knew Adrian Biddle was the guy who could deliver that.” 

"David wanted that same sort of warm and bright adventure look I strived for in ‘The Mummy' movies,” Biddle says. "I had a lot of discussions with him and Allan (Cameron, with whom Biddle has worked four times) about the colors we wanted and how we would need to incorporate space in the production designs for the lighting equipment we would need. It was crucial to build riggings into the ceiling to provide more floor room.” 

Biddle shot "Shanghai Knights” in wide-screen anamorphic format (1:2.35), which gives a more epic look but requires more lighting, as the lenses can't go as wide open. They do, however, allow for more movement in the frame, which is ideal for Biddle, who likes to keep the camera from getting in the way of the story, moving it only when necessary. 

Says executive producer Ed McDonnell, "Adrian Biddle is very quiet on the set, and works with a camera crew he knows very well. You may spend a day on set without hearing him speak. But you can obviously see what he's doing. His work is brilliant.” 
Production designer Allan Cameron was charged with building the interior set of the Dragon Pavilion, situated inside the Imperial Palace at China's Forbidden City. Draped in beautiful red silks and adorned with golden Chinese antiquities, the palace is the setting for a loving familial moment between Chon Lin (Fann Wong) and her father (Kim Chan), as he gently reminds her not to look upon the sacred Imperial Seal. The peace is quickly shattered with a violent invasion from a group of Boxers led by Lord Rathbone, leaving death in its wake and sparking Chon Lin and Chon Wang's quest for revenge.

The Dragon Pavilion is just one of 70 sets Cameron and his team built for the movie, requiring close to 300 drawings and some 200 construction workers and painters. In addition to the stage builds, Cameron constructed sets and fully dressed dozens of practical locations for the production, which traveled extensively to castles and other landmark locations throughout the Czech Republic. 

"When you do the math, you realize that we averaged a new set nearly every shooting day,” marvels executive producer Stephanie Austin, veteran of such blockbusters as "Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and "True Lies.” "Add to that the fact that we shot about half this movie at night and you can imagine the challenges.” 

For Cameron, the comical, free-spirited nature of "Shanghai Knights” gave license to create designs with unfettered imagination and few practical restraints. 

"We were able to have fun with this period by introducing elements that didn't necessarily exist at the time,” he says. "David wanted to give the film a contemporary sensibility, so we took that idea to the hilt.” 

The Dragon Pavilion sequence begins with an exterior scene that opens the movie. Cameron built the pavilion exterior on the same studio backlot that hosted several other large sets, including the enormous exterior of<

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