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When ambitious New York attorney Sam is sent to Shanghai on assignment, he immediately stumbles into a legal mess that could end his career. With the help of a beautiful relocation specialist, a well-connected old-timer, a clever journalist, and a street-smart legal assistant, Sam might just save his job, find romance, and learn to appreciate the beauty and wonders of Shanghai.Written by
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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