HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Knock Knock
Nero.
Suspected Person
Barely Lethal
Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold
Town That Dreaded Sundown, The
Comanche Territory
Nina Forever
Black Belt Jones 2
Rams
Fatal Attraction
Clash
Striking Distance
Among the Living
Beyond Evil
   
 
Newest Articles
Interview with American Epic director Bernard MacMahon at 2016 Sundance Film Festival
Bum Notes: When Musicals Went Bad
Ninja Binger: The Cannon Ninja Trilogy
All About Steve: The Spielberg Imitators
Page to Scream 2: The Keep and Adapting More Books of the Horror Boom
   
 
  Shanghai Surprise The Grate Bawl Of ChinaBuy this film here.
Year: 1986
Director: Jim Goddard
Stars: Sean Penn, Madonna, Paul Freeman, Richard Griffiths, Philip Sayer, Clyde Kusatsu, Kay Tong Lim, Sonserai Lee, Victor Wong, Professor Toru Tanaka, Michael Aldridge, Sarah Lam, George She, Won Gam Bor, To Chee Kan, George Harrison
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Adventure
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: China, 1937, and British opportunist Walter Faraday (Paul Freeman) has a money-making method in mind to glean his fortune, but first he must negotiate dangerous territory as the Japanese are invading, but also what Chinese authorities remain are after him to prevent his schemes succeeding. After pausing to finish his meal, Faraday takes his business partner Willie Tuttle (Richard Griffiths) on a rickshaw ride through the beleaguered city of Shanghai, but it does not all got to plan when sadistic official Mei Gan (Kay Tong Lim) stops them - and their opium bulbs.

That little episode ends with Mei Gan losing his hands in a booby trapped money belt and Faraday apparently dying in a hail of bullets as he tries to swim after the ship carrying his precious cargo, with Tuttle surviving but losing the bulbs in his escape. Sounds like quite an arresting way to start a movie, doesn't it? And it is, which might have been why when newlyweds Sean Penn and Madonna showed up ten minutes in the mood changed dramatically. Now we were supposedly in romantic comedy territory, which was scuppered when firstly the jokes were not funny, and secondly the romance was not romantic.

In fact, we had to take it on trust there was any attraction between Mr and Mrs Penn at all, such was the thudding lack of chemistry. Richard Griffiths came away from this fiasco with a collection of tales concerning the bad behaviour of Sean on the set, but nobody had anything good to say about Shanghai Surprise as it turned out. Well, nobody except Madonna's fans (Penn's fans were rather more lukewarm), for she bred obsession in her followers, and they could forgive their idol anything, even a series of cardboard performances in consistently underwhelming movies. Here we were intended to find her loveable, which was sabotaged when she simply came across as whiny.

She played a missionary (no, really) who wants to get her hands on those bulbs (oo-er missus, etc) so they can be turned into morphine to help with the disadvantaged, but everyone else wants them simply because of the amount of cash they will provide. There follows a shapeless assembly of scenes where it seems like something is happening, yet if you stop and think you realise there's a hell of a lot of marking time as when this resolved its plot it amounted to very little that could not have been wrapped up in about ten minutes. But there was a determination to offer the audience some local colour so Oriental actors would pop up every so often to either supply comic relief, or the in the case of Mei Gan, some sinister threat.

He was notable for losing his hands in the opening sequence, so he spends the rest of the movie with what look like porcelain replacements, with a, er, handy gap between a forefinger and middle finger where he can place a cigarette, although quite how he lights it is a mystery. A few more quirks like that and you might have had something vaguely interesting, but Shanghai Surprise tended to drone on through its setpieces, barely engaging the audience; that said, it could have received this lousy reception thanks to the public losing patience with a never out of the headlines celebrity couple, but even at this remove it doesn't exactly come up smelling of roses. And besides, it was the concoction of Handmade Films, something Beatle George Harrison had placed a lot of faith in (he wrote the music for it), and he wasn't exactly unpopular; nevetheless, the failure of this helped to sink his once-promising movie company, another reason not to warm to it.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 708 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme music?
Superman: The Movie
The Dark Knight
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three ('74)
Star Wars
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Great Escape
Halloween
The Ipcress File
The Magnificent Seven
Back to the Future
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Keith Rockmael
Darren Jones
  Arvinder Seehra
Enoch Sneed
   

 

Last Updated: