3.2/10
4,770
33 user 23 critic

Shanghai Surprise (1986)

Shanghai, 1938: A missionary woman hires a fortune hunter to help her find 1100 lbs. opium lost, as wounded need the morphine. Adventure and romance follows.

Director:

Jim Goddard

Writers:

John Kohn (screenplay), Robert Bentley (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Penn ... Glendon Wasey
Madonna ... Gloria Tatlock
Paul Freeman ... Walter Faraday
Richard Griffiths ... Willie Tuttle
Philip Sayer Philip Sayer ... Justin Kronk
Clyde Kusatsu ... Joe Go
Kay Tong Lim Kay Tong Lim ... Mei Gan
Sonserai Lee Sonserai Lee ... China Doll
Victor Wong ... Ho Chong
Professor Toru Tanaka ... Yamagani San
Michael Aldridge ... Mr. Burns
Sarah Lam ... China Doll's Maid
George She George She ... Wu Ch'En She
Won Gam Bor Won Gam Bor ... Rickshaw King
To Chee Kan To Chee Kan ... China Doll's Boatman
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Storyline

Glendon Wasey is a fortune hunter looking for a fast track out of China. Gloria Tatlock is a missionary nurse seeking the curing powers of opium for her patients. Fate sets them on a hectic, exotic, and even romantic quest for stolen drugs. But they are up against every thug and smuggler in Shangai. Written by Mehmet Karaca <mkaraca@ibm.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A romantic adventure for the dangerous at heart.


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Handmade Films Website

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 August 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aventuras en Shanghai See more »

Filming Locations:

Hong Kong, China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$729,885, 1 September 1986

Gross USA:

$2,315,683

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,315,683
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to 'The 80s Movie Rewind' website, "the filmmakers envisioned a romance similar to the one that developed between Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen (1951)". See more »

Goofs

When Wasey and Miss Tatlock catch up with Faraday in the ship's cabin, the amount of shaving-foam on Faraday's face varies between shots. See more »

Quotes

Joe Go: So, what's a nice all-American boy like you want with a thousand pounds of opium, huh?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Critical Condition (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Shanghai Surprise
Music & Lyrics by George Harrison
Performed by George Harrison with Vicki Brown
Courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

It ain't Indiana Jones
1 September 2003 | by BlueghostSee all my reviews

If nothing else this film has heart. I remember years ago all the hype that was injected into this film aimed at adolescent girls (i.e. Madonna fans), with the angle being that they would get to see the then infamous couple of Penn and Madonna frolic on the big silver screen.

Well, it didn't take a rocket scientist to know where this film was headed. Like with all films when the hype exceeds previously good, yet unhyped, films you know something's up.

The story itself isn't bad. It's kind of hackneyed at points, but that's its genre, and for what the film is it works after a fashion. There're only two real problems with this film;

1) Madonna's then acting capabilities. It's not bad for a performer who's more used to singing and dancing, and it's unfair to expect anything more from her, but her acting talent then was what it was; lacking. Let's face it, she's a better singer and dancer than an actress, and this comes from a man who is not one of her fans.

2)The second problem is the actual filming and execution of this film. The storie's there, the acting's there (Madonna not withstanding), and so forth, but there's little in the way of coverage or good cinematography. It's passing. It gets the job done. But the shots are those of a low budget flick. I believe there was a real opportunity to create atmosphere with good camera direction, but the focus of the film wasn't art so much as it was to capitalize on the then Madonna-Penn phenomenon (the film itself was riding the coat tails of Indiana Jones and The High Road to China films).

And that last part is really too bad, because this film could've been much more. At least when I saw it on HBO years ago the print I saw then was clear, corrected, crisp and otherwise very viewable. Today I had a gander at the recently released DVD, and it looks like the owners of the property took an old 16mm broadcast print and had some fly by night tranfer company encode it on a DVD master; complete with a couple of scratches on grainy film stock.

In short, if you didn't like it the first time, then don't bother with the DVD because it's even worse. If you got a spare evening, and your friend loaned you the disk, or it's available at the library, then give it a look, but don't expect too much.


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