Shanghai Calling is a lighthearted romantic comedy with an original premise. There are not many surprises within the screenplay, but the genre doesn’t require there to be. All that is necessary is the romance and a moderate amount of laugh-inducing jokes. Shanghai Calling never completely delivers on either, but despite minimal romantic chemistry between cast members and jokes which are lucky if they are mildly amusing, I found myself entertained for the film’s 101 minute running time.
One of the film’s more difficult storytelling techniques is the voice-over narrator which opens and closes the film. It doesn’t quite fit, not to mention the jarring feeling that the narrator’s return causes after being absent a majority of the picture. The supporting character Awesome Wang (Geng Le) is the narrator, telling the story of a
New York attorney sent
for business. Sam Chao (Daniel Henney) is American, but his Chinese nationality
makes him an ignorantly obvious choice when his firm needs someone in China . Shanghai
The fish-out-of-water narrative is given extra punch with a character everyone assumes will fit in because of his appearance. Sam doesn’t speak the language, but a blonde relocation specialist (Eliza Coupe) is able to despite her deceiving looks. Their romance is meant to be at the center of the film, but whether it is lacking chemistry or too many other sub-plots, this romance never seems entirely believable. The film co-stars Bill Paxton and Alan Ruck.
The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Disc Features: 4/10