Shanghai Kiss

Shanghai Kiss


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Shanghai Kiss is a pleasant surprise, thanks to the choice of casting and its structure.

Liam Liu (Ken Leung) is a struggling Chinese-American actor in Hollywood who is disillusioned with life and doesn’t see where he fits into this crazy world. Enter Adelaide (Hayden Panettiere) a feisty 16-year-old girl who’s incredibly mature for such a tender age. As their friendship blossoms, Liam is very aware of her age and avoids getting too close even though she is the princess among all the plastic women he normally meets in LA.

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He needs a change in his life which dramatically takes place when he learns from his father that he has been left a house in his grandmother’s will. Being out of work and needing the cash this sounds great, the only drawback being it is in Shanghai. As Liam embarks on his efforts to sell the house, he goes on a journey of self-discovery to find out who he really is and what he wants from life.

Expecting a frothy no-brain rom-com, Shanghai Kiss gives you so much more. There is a similar feel to Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation, as Liam appears not to fit in anywhere and feels isolated and alone, in America and also Shanghai, as he doesn’t speak the language and has no idea of Chinese culture.

Cue funny incidents, where he struggles with the language. One amusing taxi ride comes to mind and also a scene in a bar when he orders a chocolate margarita. It's in this bar that he meets Micki (Kelly Hu) and finds himself torn between two women and two countries, neither of which he feels he knows, or can call home.

Leung is a natural. He’s funny, sweet and charming. Hopefully this film will give him a chance to stretch out into more leading roles. The women are complete opposites, the more appealing for being so. If you were Liam, you would have trouble choosing the right one, too. Panettiere is better known, having appeared in Heroes, and proves she can make the leap from the small screen. Her performance is adorable.

One minor criticism might be that the film suffers from coming out after Lost In Translation, as they are similarly themed. Also, some of the characters are like stocking fillers.

Despite this, the movie is one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a long time. It’s intelligent, witty and poignant and doesn’t deserve the straight-to-DVD treatment. It’s one of those films you’ll stumble across, love and then recommend to a friend.

Go rent it.

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2008
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Journey of self discovery for Chinese-American actor in Shanghai.
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Director: Kern Konwiser, David Ren

Writer: David Ren

Starring: Ken Leung, Hayden Panettiere, Kelly Hu, Joel Moore, James Hong, Kathleen Lancaster, Timothy Bottoms, Byron Mann, Lorna Scott, Spencer Redford, Summer Altice, Steve Connell, Brian Gardner

Year: 2007

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Hong Kong/China


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