An American man returns to a corrupt, Japanese-occupied Shanghai four months before Pearl Harbor and discovers his friend has been killed. While he unravels the mysteries of the death, he falls in love and discovers a much larger secret that his own government is hiding.
An American man returns to a corrupt, Japanese-occupied Shanghai four months before Pearl Harbor and discovers his friend has been killed. While he unravels the mysteries of the death, he falls in love and discovers a much larger secret that his own government is hiding. less
The story of cross-cultural spies set on the backdrop of some historical revolution, is a finger-licking combination. There are plethora of movies where core-plot is inspired from the real-life happenings (either Big or Small) of historic importance. Only handful of those attempts finally make it to elite league, which in itself is a proof that execution and treatment plays a vital role too.
Mikael Hafstrom's SHANGHAI deal with the events transpired on the brink of World War II when Japanese Govt steamrolled into Chinas 'titled' city. The story is gripping and the series of mysteries are webbed in an interesting manner. The speed of the proceedings could not be questioned as screenplay moves at a brisk space; so much so that, the romantic (or seductive, rather) track not even looks half-baked. The problem lies in the climax; all hell breaks loose once the Pandora-box is opened. The spiraled turn of events looks unconvincing once the knots are untied. The "tell-all" of so-far intricate plot does not look awe-inspiring and is devoid of surprise element. If the build up is in such a high octave then the culmination should be at zenith; but writer Hossein Amini missed the trick just by a whisker, I suppose. Ahem!!!
John Cusack is very natural as a main lead and does full justice to his role of multi-shades. Yun-Fat Chow sleep-walks through his part which neither tests his acting prowess nor his action-antics. Li-Gong is at the best: Just Decent. She looks sexy in certain frames and act to the best of her ability; not a femme fatale material, though. Ken Watanabe steps into baddies shoes with ridiculous ease.
Whole department and crew of Art-directors deserves a pat on their back for the commendable re-creation of the 40s' Shanghai. Delhommes cinematography deserves a special mention for capturing its scenic beauty. Action and stunts,sans any chilling moments, are disappointing.
Maverick Verdict: If making people laugh is an arduous task then putting thrillers into 70 mm canvas is not easier, either. If trapping audiences into 'chakravyuh' of mysteries is important, then pulling them out of it is equally essential. SHANGHAI had the potential of a must watch, but it ends up as a decent one. Pick your Flick and take plunge, or else STAY IN PEACE!!