Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Shanghai Calling

By-the-numbers romance has some property by the Yangtze it would like to sell you.

Feb 14, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371918-Shanghai_Calling_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A rom-com where finding love is less important than acknowledging the up-and-comingness of China's largest city, Daniel Hsia's Shanghai Calling is boosterish enough to have been ghostwritten by that town's Board of Tourism. Small flashes of wit aren't sufficient to distinguish this generic feature, or to broaden its appeal beyond those Sino-American immigrants who may find its table-turning premise amusingly novel.

Daniel Henney plays Sam Chow, a thoroughly Westernized second-generation Chinese-American who, thinking he's about to be made partner in his NYC-based law firm, is instead sent to run their new Asian office. His fish-out-of-water errors in Shanghai are made considerably less amusing by Sam's condescension to those around him, especially the two capable women—office assistant Fang Fang (Zhu Zhu) and relocation specialist Amanda (Eliza Coupe), a blonde American fluent in Mandarin—trying to help him get acclimated.

Sam's cultural cluelessness is soon matched by professional disaster, when his cellphone-manufacturer client sees tech innovations he has licensed ripped off by another firm. Realizing only locals (like the "mayor of Americatown," a fast-food restaurateur played by Bill Paxton) can help him shut the pirates down before he loses his job, Sam reluctantly employs Awesome Wang, an unassuming journalist who moonlights as a fixer for the expat community.

Strike "expat" and make that "immigrant": In between the connect-the-dots beats that soon draw Sam and Amanda together, the script finds numerous opportunities to explain that Shanghai isn't the Siberia Sam believes it to be—that it's a land of opportunity where modest fry cooks transform themselves into politicians, men with ideas become industrial titans, new lives are begun.

China is also a place where distinctive cinematic visions can be found, drawing on local sensibilities to produce work that barely resembles Hollywood fare. Shanghai Calling, despite its China-proud proselytizing, clearly still believes in American superiority where storytelling is concerned.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Shanghai Calling

By-the-numbers romance has some property by the Yangtze it would like to sell you.

Feb 14, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371918-Shanghai_Calling_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A rom-com where finding love is less important than acknowledging the up-and-comingness of China's largest city, Daniel Hsia's Shanghai Calling is boosterish enough to have been ghostwritten by that town's Board of Tourism. Small flashes of wit aren't sufficient to distinguish this generic feature, or to broaden its appeal beyond those Sino-American immigrants who may find its table-turning premise amusingly novel.

Daniel Henney plays Sam Chow, a thoroughly Westernized second-generation Chinese-American who, thinking he's about to be made partner in his NYC-based law firm, is instead sent to run their new Asian office. His fish-out-of-water errors in Shanghai are made considerably less amusing by Sam's condescension to those around him, especially the two capable women—office assistant Fang Fang (Zhu Zhu) and relocation specialist Amanda (Eliza Coupe), a blonde American fluent in Mandarin—trying to help him get acclimated.

Sam's cultural cluelessness is soon matched by professional disaster, when his cellphone-manufacturer client sees tech innovations he has licensed ripped off by another firm. Realizing only locals (like the "mayor of Americatown," a fast-food restaurateur played by Bill Paxton) can help him shut the pirates down before he loses his job, Sam reluctantly employs Awesome Wang, an unassuming journalist who moonlights as a fixer for the expat community.

Strike "expat" and make that "immigrant": In between the connect-the-dots beats that soon draw Sam and Amanda together, the script finds numerous opportunities to explain that Shanghai isn't the Siberia Sam believes it to be—that it's a land of opportunity where modest fry cooks transform themselves into politicians, men with ideas become industrial titans, new lives are begun.

China is also a place where distinctive cinematic visions can be found, drawing on local sensibilities to produce work that barely resembles Hollywood fare. Shanghai Calling, despite its China-proud proselytizing, clearly still believes in American superiority where storytelling is concerned.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here