An American man returns to a corrupt, Japanese-occupied Shanghai four months before Pearl Harbor and discovers his friend has been killed. While he unravels the mysteries of the death, he falls in love and discovers a much larger secret.Written by
When the Imperial Japanese Navy carrier Kaga is first mentioned (while Soames is on the phone with Astor), he looks at a photograph of the ship. The photo is a real one and shows the Kaga after it had been refitted in 1933-35. It shows the Kaga's distinctive down-turned funnel (built to minimise the funnel's smoke) set amidships on the side facing the camera. But the caption accompanying the photo says that it's a surveillance photograph taken in 1939, which is not true. It's an official Japanese photo taken in 1936 and forms part of both the Yamato and Kashiwa Museums collections. See more »
Part of the plot of the film revolves around the Type 91 torpedo, and the fact that it was given to the Imperial Japanese Navy by the Germans. Although the Type 91 was a real and highly effective aerial torpedo in use by the IJN during World War II - it was used with devastating effect at Pearl Harbour - it was not a German design. It was developed by the Japanese themselves back in 1931, and went through various modifications and improvements until its use in World War II, including the addition of wooden stabilising fins for use in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbour. It also doesn't make much sense for the Japanese to only get the weapon two months before launching their attack, because that would have given no time for further development and modification for Japanese torpedo bombers, or for training pilots in its use.
Historically, there actually was a real exchange of aerial torpedo technology between Germany and Japan, but it was in the opposite direction and only in 1942. The Germans had no good aerial torpedoes of their own, having previously bought ones from Italy. The Japanese sent some examples of the Type 91 to Germany via submarine, where the German version entered service designated as 'Lufttorpedo LT 850'. See more »
I expected a lot with an international heavy weight cast like this one. All the way to the smallest characters are filled with great actors.
The cinematography is excellent and successfully recreates the feel of 40's Shanghai, along with the a secretive atmosphere that enhances the film noir mood. The story moves at a good pace where there isn't a scene too many and you have to keep your mind working to uncover the mysteries Paul Soames is trying to solve.
The excellent cast doesn't disappoint, John Cusack is solid and believable as an agent posing as a journalist. It's not hard to understand he would fall for the insanely beautiful Gong Li who seems to have found a fountain of youth somewhere. She plays the role of Anna Lan-Ting with a seductive and secretive flavor which is a joy to watch. Her husband, mob boss Anthony Lan-Ting, is being played by Hong Kong icon Chow Yun Fat who exudes charm and power but still manages to walk the fine line of a character you feel attracted to but also know you should actually stay away from. His performance adds the right amount of flair the production needs. Ken Watanabe plays out his sinister vibe along with a human grace perfectly and Jeffrey dean Morgan is believable as the friend who ended up dead.
Instead of a movie about politics and war, it's more about human relations and the different side to people. How people are used and mislead at times like this, and matters of the heart play an important role in the decisions the characters make.
If you are open to a movie that makes you think and wonder, you will definitely love 'Shanghai'.
The only thing that I did not get into was the romance-angle between John Cusack and Gong Li.... but maybe that's how it's meant to be. It's easy to see why he would fall for her but she, on the other hand, might have a whole different agenda.
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