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
Prior to filming, Franka Potente's life was threatened by a stalker. Throughout the filming and entire production she was referred to by a pseudonym. 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 »
Conner and I had joined the Navy like our fathers and grandfathers before us. Our lives were set. Birth, school, Yale, war. The great American tradition.
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This is a fascinating movie in many ways, not least for its partially successful elucidation of a particularly dark period in Shanghai's colourful history. However, "Shanghai" comes across all too often as a confused mish-mash of other movies - Casablanca and The Third Man both spring rather too readily to mind - while offering little of its own in the way of an original plot or any intriguing character arcs.
Solid acting work all 'round. Franka Potente is probably the most watchable of the actors here, despite being less toothsome than Gong Li (who looks every bit her age in this movie but is still ravishingly attractive).
There are a few intriguing glimpses of Shanghai as it might have been in the early 40s, including one particularly well-recreated crane shot of the Bund - although I have to say the ships look just a tad too close to the imposing British-built buildings lining that famous boulevard. There's another shot from inside the Cusack character's hotel room showing a few of Shanghai's classic buildings through the window, clearly digitally composited as those particular buildings could never have been viewed that way from the one vantage point.
However, it seems (judging from the credits) that the vast majority of this movie was shot in Thailand, and thus most of the street scenes and interiors are fairly generic and not particularly evocative of Shanghai's history. For a much better rendition of this you need to have a look at Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" which treads similar territory (Shanghai, spies, Japanese occupation etc) with much more style.
Indeed I find myself wondering why this movie was made at all, given that pretty much 100% of its thematic territory had been covered by Lee's movie just a couple of years before, and with considerably more chutzpah.
Nevertheless...if you're a fan of any of these actors, it's worth a look.
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