Sunday, February 6, 2011


Still from Shanghai
Although The Weinstein Co. had Oscar hopes for 1940s Period Piece Shanghai this Awards season, it looks as though it will be shelved for the rounds later this year with a set-release date of October 28, 2011 in North America.

Set in a Japanese-occupied Shanghai prior to Japan's devastating attacks on Pearl Harbour during World War II, its Story follows Paul Soames (John Cusack), an American Spy who visits to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of his Friend Conner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), also a Spy.

Paul is drawn to the alluring Anna Lan-Ting (Gong Li), Wife of Chinese Mobster Anthony (Chow Yun-Fat), who has underhanded dealings with Japanese Security Chief, Captain Tanaka (Ken Watanabe).  As the Plot thickens, secrets are unraveled and none of the characters we learn, are without one.  We learn that Captain Tanaka and Conner in fact shared a Lover in Sumiko (Rinko Kikuchi), in ways paralleling the jeopardous Love Triangle between Anthony, Anna and Paul.

Times are dangerous in Shanghai with Mobsters possessing almost as much power as the Government, taking matters of Justice in their own hands.  Set against the backdrop of the War, there is an imminent sense of danger and we wonder if Paul will be able to escape Shanghai alive and unnoticed as a Spy, or whether he will suffer a similar fate to Conner.

Shanghai is a beautifully-shot Film and despite having been made in Thailand, the Sets and Costumes depict the beauty which rose above the troubled times of "The Paris of the Orient".  Director Mikael Håfström struggles to deliver with a confusing Plot Line and part-way through the Movie we forget what Paul's real motivation is in all of this.  Paul's Storyline with the deceased Conner fails to bring enough clout to build a proper Story upon, as is the case with his and Anna's forbidden romance.  Even the superb Gong Li despite delivering an alarmingly convincing performance in her best English, gets lost in the cesspool of fragmented Subplots.  Shanghai would have been a much better Film if it focused its attentions on being a Romance first, Political Spy Drama second.  Grade: C+

For those of you with an All-Region DVD Player, who cannot wait for Shanghai's Theatrical release, you can order it online at YesAsia now here.

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