HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Siddhartha
Three Outlaw Samurai
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
Truth, The
Good Die Young, The
Old Guard, The
Gumnaam
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
Sullivans, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
   
 
  Shanghai Surprise The Grate Bawl Of China
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, AdventureBuy from Amazon
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 1771 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 star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: