Thursday, August 19, 2010


Thanks to a great friend from China -that noticed I'm back- was able to watch this great movie that even when is an American production doesn't look or feel like one; maybe because director Mikael Håfström is Swedish, the writer was born in Iran and the amazing cast comes from China, Japan, Germany and USA or maybe is the noir style that gives the film an air of old fashion movie from the times when Casablanca or Citizen Kane were born.

Yes the cast is outstanding and for starters here we have the extraordinary, beautiful and expressive Gong Li reunited with none other than great Yun-Fat Chow; next amazing Ken Watanabe and with a more supporting role Rinko Kikuchi representing Japan; from Germany great Franka Potente and from USA one of the few actors I really enjoy watching, John Cusack. Eclectic cast isn't?

Tells about an undercover American agent posing as a journalist Paul Soames (John Cusack) that's call to Shanghai to follow his friend -and also agent- investigation and find who kill him. All happens in the eve of December 1941 when Shanghai was the only major China's city not yet occupied by the Japanese and was a potboil of foreign and local inhabitants; a city divided into districts according to nationality, so you had the Japanese district, the German district and the American district. Also important to the story are the Chinese resistance with urban fighting against the Japanese.

Is in this scenario that Paul meets Anna Lan-Ting (Gong Li) the wife of Chinese mob and Japanese collaborator Anthony Lan-Ting (Yun-Fat Chow) and as Paul follows Anna trying to uncover the connection to his friend, the story unravels at times tense, at times with very sophisticated drama, some action, some not-usual romance, and most of the time looking and feeling like great Chinese cinema. The last surely happened because I saw a Mandarin dubbed version that today I'm sure is the best that happened to me to really appreciate and enjoy more the film.

This is another film that when was over I wanted more and be sure that I'll watch the movie again, as well as when the DVD is available will go directly to my collection along with all great Gong Li films.

I simply love the movie and believe that the chemistry between Gong Li and Cusack is unexpected, unimaginable but real which was an incredibly good surprise for me, as Gong Li has had some foreign co-stars that simply don't fit her unique style, kill the romance and make them a not-believable couple.

If you're a Gong Li fan this is absolutely must be seen for you; also if you appreciate good Chinese cinema (I know is an American production but is a reference) you have to watch this film. If you're expecting Hollywood in this film be sure that you will not find it in the narrative, the style, the performances, and the visuals; maybe there is a little Hollywood in the scenarios and tech specs but nowhere else.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

There is another more commercial movie poster but I HAD TO post here the Chinese poster.

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