Shanghai Calling (2012) Poster

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Light and romantic...
mathmaniac13 February 2013
This film is about a young American lawyer whose employers send him to Shanghai to represent the firm in China.

There are at least three intertwining plots. Of these, the most touching and sweet romance occurs between two Chinese people.

There are several important characters. Of these, the most forceful is not a person, but a city: Shanghai, with its Chinese culture and lightning-fast business environment.

The story is simple: the old fish-out-of-water struggles of a confident person struggling in a new environment. The viewer doesn't learn much about the backgrounds of the two romantic leads who can speak fluent English to each other. It doesn't matter, because they are both adrift and recognize each other as they drift. That process is romantic.

Daniel Henney is so attractive, its hard to imagine that he would not already be a serious relationship back in the States. The same could be said of Eliza Coupe, whom he meets his first day in Shanghai.

Hijinks ensue, but the subdued kind. The Chinese kind. Romance ensues, but the subdued kind. The Chinese and American kind.

Worth watching, more than once.
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Reversal of Everything
runhenry12 January 2013
The mediocre reception in the market and rather low rating were probably due to its modest promotion and difficult-to-target audiences. I highly recommend this movie for Chinese foreign students in America and American foreign students in China. Although the movie was designed to suite the taste of both American and Chinese audience, it leans more toward China elements than America. Moreover, it focuses more on the vitality and youth of modern China than the traditionally ancient elements that were usually used more to appeal to western audience. Therefore, if you are the kind of person who is interested in looking for exotic oriental girls and outlandish culture, this movie might not be your type. But if you are a person with open-mindedness and readiness to see new things springing up in a foreign and especially if you have experience of living in a foreign country, this movie is almost perfect.

There are three things that could be highlighted in this film: 1. Daniel Henney's groundbreaking performance 2. interracial relationship and immigrant personality 3. East vs. West; China vs. US.

The latter two could be simply summarized as follows: the reversal of stereotypes.

1. When was the last time you saw an Asian male actor with charming look and personality being casted as a major role in a American film? I bet you could not recollect anything. Daniel Henney is almost perfect- looking and he exactly fills this void. While he starred in Wolvering as the Agent-Zero before,a role who is cool but sinister, he could not break the spell of marginal Asian male actors in Hollywood and was given limited room for showing his acting skills. However, in this film, he is casted as the no.1 role and given tremendous opportunities to display his talent as an actor. He succeeds. Playing a professional business- men-like person wasn't a novel thing for Daniel Henney, he already got a similar role before in Seducing Mr. Perfect. While his performance in that movie relied more on his appearance, his performance in Shanghai Calling proved that he could also shine by his HUMOR. He is indeed very very funny in this film. For more information, refers to the "Tea Scene", "Noodle Scene", "Nanny Scene", etc. There were almost not a single scene in Shanghai Calling that was intended for Daniel Henney to act cool and prince-like as he did in Korean drama and film. Although there are occasional scenes and flashes of Daniel Henney's muscle and physique, they are scenes made more for the sake of development of plot or dramatizing the comedic elements of the film.

Reversal of Stereotypes: In this film, everything is overturned. there's no better way to discuss those sensitive subjects than a comedy film, mitigating offensive part of the topic through satirizing and sarcasm.

First, a charming Asian guy hooks up with a beautiful white girl. In this sense, I think no further due would be needed. But the singular elements of the interracial relationship is that a very Americanized Chinese guy gets to hook up with a very Chinesnized Caucasian girl. and it is also worth noting that Eliza and Daniel really succeed to build a chemistry between themselves and the romantic scenes is natural and unassuming.

Projecting this to a larger theme in this film, American turns into immigrant in China, and China becomes the host country of immigration. It is very interesting to see that cute little white girl refusing to speak English just in order to be integrated into the homogeneous Han Chinese social group in her school. It almost seems mirror the once poor Asian kids in a white-majority school who feels homesick and isolated.

While most of the holly-wood produced movies today tend to focus on the backward or traditional side of Chinese society, this movie put a very strong emphasis on the modern and western elements of China: Sky- scraper, dance pool, apartment, stream production in factory, the restaurant, etc. I am Chinese myself. Most of the Hollywood films about China look foreign to me, whereas the China depicted in this film is almost exactly the China I live in and I think is. The director, though a Chinese-American, does a great job understanding the modern China by his knowledge of modern Chinese culture and selection of Chinese actors. Karaoke (KTV),modern urban Chinese girls who are superficial and jealous, a crowded family living in Nong-Tang, effeminate but loyal and caring Chinese youngster, the taxi driver, and the Chinese Jazz music. That is the Shanghai I used to live.

the American humor might not be appealing to the Chinese audience;the modern and western China might not be interesting to American audience. The movie is perfect for anyone who ever have the experience of living i both countries and is the young and new generation. The movie deserves a lot of credit for its bringing of freshness and novelty.

What is bad about the Movie? The ending part of movie is rather brusque, and the law-suit case is rather childish-like.

Finally, the film conveys a universalistic message because the reversal of role in every sense simply means that every one is the same. Different outcomes simply depend on the specific context one are in, and different contexts would determine the kind of roles one would play.
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Excellent film starring Shanghai
mmckinley213 May 2013
I watched this on the plane returning to California from Shanghai and it was spot on right about the "expats" (who never think of themselves as carpetbaggers or immigrants). I was in Shanghai to teach an MBA course on business ethics and this film sent exactly the right message on that very topic. Instead of going to a new country to skim the cream in whatever unscrupulous way one can get away with, why not try being a model for others on how to succeed by doing the right thing.

I thought Shanghai's Bund itself was the star of the show, and rightly so, and the leads are both rising stars to watch. The editing could have had less abrupt resolutions, though. A bit too pat for Sam to meet a philosophical Chinese guy in a (brazen advert) Costa Coffee who leads him to enlightenment in a coffee bean.

However, the comedic moments are genuinely hilarious!
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A star is born in Daniel Henney...
Clayton Davis15 February 2013
Full of wit and a distant cousin to Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer, Daniel Hsia's feature debut Shanghai Calling is a hilarious and steady picture featuring an outstanding breakout performance by Daniel Henney. A romantic comedy that often falls victim to American stereotypes that we've grown to see over the years of cinema however, it's delightful to see those things outside of a New York backdrop or mundane college town. Telling the story of a New York attorney Sam (Henney) who is sent to Shanghai, China on business, but when a shady deal threatens his career, Sam, with the help of his relocation specialist Amanda (Eliza Coupe) and others, he grows an admiration of his new surroundings.

Hsia's stylistic tendencies are impressive and while he resembles certain directorial choices from the likes of Chris Weitz, Marc Webb, even Sofia Coppola among others, he doesn't allow himself or his film to be taken too serious. Its loads of fun, well-written, and shows a potential promising career that could eventually elevate to smarter, more daring cinematic themes; Hsia's film is a great introduction into his future arsenal. There aren't the pros without the cons sadly. His pacing and editing are well put together, but Hsia's story treads too close to sappy rom-coms that will annoy the boyfriends of many ladies around the world.

As the charismatic and incredibly funny Sam, Daniel Henney, probably well-known for his role as Agent Zero in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), delivers the first great comedic performance of 2013. Involved and dedicated, Henney takes an A-typical "schmuck guy" role and elevates it to raw magnetism that stands as the actor's finest. The film succeeds purely on his talents as he wiggles his way right into your heart. Dare I say this early, Golden Globe consideration? Though highly improbable. The score by Klaus Badelt & Christopher Carmichael is also pretty sensational as it brings a wonderful accompaniment to some key scenes.

As the cute, spunky love interest, Eliza Coupe (ABC's "Happy Endings") does the best with the tools she's given. A single mom running from American life in a predictable and underwritten role isn't the most inventive or effective manners to showcase your talents. Coupe is still worth watching. The great Bill Paxton is as underutilized as ever, bringing an unappealing perversion to an American mayor that further builds the projection that all Americans suck. Keep your eyes on Sean Gallagher, who's forced, yet effective role as Brad, is an added joy full of laughs.

Easy to foresee and even too cliché for its own good at times, Shanghai Calling is pure enjoyment and something that may surprise even more skillful cinematic minds.

The film is now playing in select cities.
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Light Airy Escapade with some valuable insights about 'ex-pats'
gradyharp24 March 2013
SHANGHAI CALLING may not light any fires of excitement in filmdom but it is a successful dual country effort to quash some misconceptions about China and the US and the news we hear daily. And if it were for that alone it would be worth an evening's outing, but graced by a really top notch cast of fresh actors not well known - yet - it becomes a tender little romp set in the spectacular beauty of Shanghai! The story is a predictable one:a young handsome Chinese American Lawyer (a very fine young actor hunk Daniel Henney) who was born in America and speaks no Chinese at all is sent by his major law firm in New York to gain access into the big business happening in Shanghai - home of the manufacturers who make everything used in this country it seems! Once in China he encounters Chinese customs of which he is ignorant, a language he does not understand, an ex-pat mayor of Americatown (Bill Paxton), a beautiful single mom (Eliza Coupe, another one to watch) who has moved to China to give her daughter a new life and is in charge of finding homes for new businessmen, a gorgeous assistant (Zhu Zhu)who falls for him, and a crazy ex-pat (Alan Ruck)who teaches English as a sideline to womanizing. When our young lawyer seems to fail at everything he intends to do he engages a fix-it guy humorously called Awesome Wang (Geng Le) and gradually our lawyer finds a new outlook on his cultural heritage, rights some wrongs, and falls in love.

Daniel Hsia directs and keeps the momentum going throughout film - even when relying on the ubiquitous chase scenes (here on bicycles). It is a fine introduction to coexistence between the new China and the somewhat backwards USA! Grady Harp
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True, laughable and touching
qmsw-986138 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Let me introduce myself quickly. I grew up in Beijing, graduated from the best University. I "relocated" to Texas in my late 20s, not far from San Antonio. As an immigrant who have struggled every single day, I can say I love every line of the movie.They were so true, laughable and touching.

When I was in Beijing during my adolescence, I used to know some "expats" , called "Lao Wai". They were often grumbling about Chinese laws and business, making fun of Chinese ladies for "cheap", making comments on Chinese who tried to be friend with them, saying they were "English learner, not real friends". After watching this movie, I eventually understand what those "Lao Wai" were talking about.

It was distrust. Those expats can't trust the law, the ladies, and friends. And it is same here. I want to get along with American people, but different culture just raised the cost of trusting people no matter how hard you try.

Fang Fang was a flirty young beauty. So true. I 'd say that she was the epitome of China in the last century----poor, beautiful,trying so hard in every possible way to get connected to the world's front edge.

Eventually we learned that flirting was her way to exchange for help, not "taking me to New York"as Sam said. To be honest, Chinese young ladies nowadays are much more anti-marriage.

Awesome Wang is both street-smart and supportive for public justice, which rarely exist in the same person. Awesome Wang is a real eccentric, though truly awesome.

The man who preached to Sam about the pit was another excellent case of cultural shock. There are many men wearing robes in China. The love to preach to any strangers randomly. They are not monks and they do not take donations. Donating publicly is actually a very negative thing because the recipient would be considered as money-minded and hypocrisy. I know it is different in America. Everyday I feel seized at the neck when I see donation requests in supermarket till and daycare email.

To Be Continued.
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A nice sweet movie that is unremarkable
Jenova_Project1 October 2016
I like this movie. I don't love it, I don't hate, I don't regret watching it, but I don't really remember it until I watch it the next time. That's the best I can tell you, and I think that's unfortunate because with the stars in the movie, the location, the cinematography, and the score, it should have been so much more. But it's slightly above average and that's frustrating.

First off, the story is the movie's biggest fault. There's just so little stakes-- nobody is living or dying. It's just very inconvenient for all those involved. It draaaagggs the movie down so much because every time we are taken away from a character moment or a comedic scene to focus on the plot, the movie gets boring. Secondly, the movie foremost wants to be a travelogue that will get you to movie to Shanghai. Since it doesn't accomplish the first thing very well, it doesn't accomplish the second thing very well either. If they had just tried to tell a compelling story instead of forcefully hinting at the charm of Shanghai, maybe it would have been more effective.

So, why did I like it then? Everything else is pretty stellar. The comedy writing is great. There's a lot of lines ("DOES ANYBODY HERE UNDERSTAND THIS GUY?") that are funny and a lot of character interactions ("Pretty Chinese girl!") that land very well. Like I said, the cinematography is nice. Shanghai is beautiful and the landscape photography really makes it pop. THE ACTORS. Daniel Henney is so charming and likable even when he is doing bad, unethical things. Eliza and Zhu Zhu are great as the "love interests" and bring a lot out of the secondary characters. Bill Paxton is a step down from his best films, but he has some general charm too.

Whenever we're given a moment to sit with the characters, the movie lands. It's just a shame that the story is so subpar. I heard through the grapevine that the movie was at one time considered as TV show, and I think that would have been a way better option since having a compelling narrative would not be as important. Instead, it kinda just serves as a nice DVD that sits on my shelf for whenever some friends come over, and we don't wanna go out.
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refreshing story, but not so exciting to watch, a few cliché lame jokes.
Hunky Stud22 July 2014
I think that there is only one similar film "outsourced" which was made a few years ago. So this story is very unique. It also has some semi- famous actors in it, but the story is not exciting. It is almost predictable.

And there are a few obvious problems in it. When it was shot in the streets of shanghai, it was so apparent that lots of people were watching while it was filmed. It instantly makes the audiences realizing that they are watching a fake film.

Second, the restaurant scene was so awkward, not funny at all. Because when he stood up, you can see that the rest of the tables were almost empty. Some of the jokes are just plain simple cliché and not funny.

There are plenty of expatriates living in Shanghai or other cities in China, I think that maybe one of them can write a real story. And the male protagonist doesn't even have any Chinese blood in him.
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Waste of time.
bigenough-1860912 September 2015
Terribly written movie, forget about the directing. Have seen student films better than this. What a waste of everybody's time including the actors. I'd give this a 0/10 if possible!

Terribly written movie, forget about the directing. Have seen student films better than this. What a waste of everybody's time including the actors. I'd give this a 0/10 if possible!

Terribly written movie, forget about the directing. Have seen student films better than this. What a waste of everybody's time including the actors. I'd give this a 0/10 if possible!

Terribly written movie, forget about the directing. Have seen student films better than this. What a waste of everybody's time including the actors. I'd give this a 0/10 if possible!

Terribly written movie, forget about the directing. Have seen student films better than this. What a waste of everybody's time including the actors. I'd give this a 0/10 if possible!
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A waste of time
derekph-123 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I wanted to like this. I thought it would be interesting to see what modern Shanghai is like, and how an American would adapt to life there. And the lead is cute.

Unfortunately, this was written by a ten-year old. I watched the first 40 minutes, trying to give it a chance, and every scene made me groan. The lead, Sam, supposedly a brilliant, successful lawyer, is sent to Shanghai to run his law firm's new office, apparently simply because he has some Chinese ancestry. He doesn't speak Chinese, he doesn't know the culture, and he doesn't want the job. Never mind, they pick him. So he accepts, with ill grace, and makes no effort at all to prepare for the assignment. No language lessons, no acquaintance with local law or culture, nothing. He'll just wing it. Really? So he walks in and offends everyone and makes a mess of everything he touches. What a shock.

I had to stop at the second mention of Awesome Wang. The joke is bad enough, but Sam's puerile reaction is much worse. Nothing he does seems to be guided by intelligence or logic, he always reacts like a Disney sitcom ten-year old boy.

So I gave up, and if I can save you from wasting time trying to watch this, my pain has served a purpose. Unless you like Disney-channel sitcoms. In that case, go for it.

By the way, Shanghai in this movie looks like every other modern metropolis. If there's any local charm, it's not shown. Visit Chinatown in San Francisco and you'll see more traditional Chinese culture.
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Surprising Great Asian Movie
loveabby8728 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen so many typical Asian movie, comedy, romance, thriller name it. When I choose to watch Shanghai Calling, honestly that's simply because I crave to see Daniel Henney act.

He's a raising star in South Korea, born as Daniel Philip Henney, a mixed British Korean with American citizen, is indeed born with great natural acting, full of charms and charismatic character. He happened can manage every of his movie characters into a resistible one, even when he has to play a bad guy, check out Seducing Mr. Perfect and The Spy.

I wasn't expect anything on the first minute I watched this Shanghai Calling movie. But it is intrigue to see Daniel Henney portray as a Chinese rather than Korean. He did remind me with a great HongKong actor Russel Wong.

I am so amaze on how the story plot is running. The portray of a foreigner came into "what he thinks" a 3rd world country. The old Chinese man with flying chicken imagination shown in the beginning, when Sam been told that he assigned to China is really a cool and funny way to speak his imagination. I believe this is something that must see by all the westerner or European who plans to come to Asian countries.

Sam thinks his life in NY was so great that he ignore to see the good things that he can have in Shanghai. No kidding~ This movie fulls of funny scenes, including Sam arrogant act when he scold the taxi driver who actually wanting to help him.

The female roles is just okay. Maybe for men, they'd like to see it. I'm too bias with Daniel Henney so maybe I expected more from the actress in this movie.

Great thing is this movie is really smart in making and not carried away by the racist issue whatsoever.

The ending also unpredictable, just when I think it's about to end, when Sam (Daniel Henney) thinks that he managed to solve his case, the other issue came out. I love how it plays viewer mind, totally unexpected and great ending.

Yes, I do see that they could give Bill Paxton more role in the story, in fact, the Awesome Wang really did it all. Again unexpected story plot. So I still give 10 for this.

Overall, I really enjoy watching it, and wish it will not end there, maybe another interesting story about Sam living in Shanghai.
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