REVIEW: SHANGHAI

Starring

John Cusack (The Butler)
Li Gong (Hannibal Rising)
Chow Yun-Fat (Curse of the Golden Flower)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen)
Ken Watanabe (Godzilla: King of the Monsters)
Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim)
David Morse (16 Blocks)
Franka Potente (The Bourne Identity)
Hugh Bonneville (Paddington)
Andy On (Blackhat)
Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel)
Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)

Yun-Fat Chow in Shanghai (2010)In December 1941, just before the entry of the United States into World War II, an American agent from the Naval Intelligence Office (Cusack) arrives in Shanghai to find his friend Conner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was recently murdered. Determined to find out who killed Conner and why, he begins working at the Herald using the alias Paul Soames, a Nazi-sympathizer cover he used while stationed in Berlin. He meets Anthony Lan-Ting (Chow Yun-Fat) an influential crime lord and Captain Tanaka (Ken Watanabe) at the German embassy in Shanghai, during an invitation-only event. He later befriends Anthony when he saves him during an attack on Japanese officers by the Chinese Resistance at a night club.Li Gong and John Cusack in Shanghai (2010)Paul realizes that it was Anthony’s wife, Anna (Gong Li) who actually organized the attack and is the leader of the resistance. He then decides to help her pass on messages. After finally meeting up with Conner’s contact in the Japanese Consulate, Paul finds out that Conner had an affair with a Japanese girl named Sumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) and after searching her place, Paul uncovers numerous photos, which Conner took, in a darkroom nearby. Some of the photos include Captain Tanaka, other Japanese officers and the aircraft carrier Kaga.Shanghai (2010)Unconvinced that Sumiko betrayed Conner, he determines to find the girl and get the answers he seeks. After a few more encounters with Anna, Anthony, Captain Tanaka, and investigating at an opium house, Paul realizes that Sumiko was Captain Tanaka’s lover and was seduced by Conner to spy for him. Paul’s cover is blown when Conner’s contact is arrested, and Paul gets interrogated by Captain Tanaka regarding the whereabouts of Sumiko, whose location he does not know. After being released, Anna takes Paul to a safe house where she has been hiding Sumiko, who is on the verge of death due to withdrawal from opium and possibly other illnesses.Shanghai (2010)Outside, Anthony Lan-Ting arrives with Captain Tanaka who he gave away the location of the safe house. It was the only way for him to save Anna from arrest. Inside the safe house, Tanaka informs Paul that the Japanese fleet started attacking Pearl Harbor one hour earlier and that the invasion of Shanghai is also underway. Tanaka admits to killing Conner, but only out of jealousy as he found out about Conner and Sumiko. A visibly distraught Tanaka asks for Paul’s help in administering drugs to ease Sumiko’s death. After Sumiko dies, everyone gets ready to leave, but Tanaka wants to question Anna which infuriates Anthony. He then guns down Tanaka’s bodyguards and seriously wounds Tanaka himself. Before he can kill Tanaka, Anthony is fatally wounded by a dying bodyguard.Shanghai (2010)Leaving behind a wounded Tanaka, Paul drives the Lan-Tings away through the burning streets of Shanghai and with his last words, Anthony asks Paul to take Anna out of Shanghai, which he successfully does. Before getting on the ship, Paul and Anna encounter Tanaka once again, but Tanaka decides not to acknowledge them, perhaps because Paul helped him at Sumiko’s deathbed and spared his life after being shot. It is revealed later that both Paul and Anna, at some point, returned to Shanghai.Shanghai (2010)This is an enjoyable movie, and it captures that sense of mystery, mistrust, betrayal and fear that you experience during an espionage/war film. Though this isn’t essentially a war film in that it’s main focus is about blowing up people etc, it is about the struggle of invasion and the effects of it. .

REVIEW: THE HURT LOCKER

CAST
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Anthony Mackie (Million Dollar Baby)
Brian Geraghty (When A Stranger Calls)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
David Morse (The Rock)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
The Hurt Locker opens with a quotation from War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, a best-selling 2002 book by Chris Hedges, a New York Times war correspondent and journalist: “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”
Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner), a battle-tested veteran, arrives as a new team leader of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in the Iraq War,replacing Staff Sergeant Matthew Thompson (Guy Pearce), who was killed by a radio-controlled 155mm improvised explosive device (IED) in Baghdad. His team includes Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty).
James’ maverick methods and attitude lead Sanborn and Eldridge to consider him reckless, and tensions mount. When they are assigned to destroy some explosives in a remote desert area, James returns to the detonation site to pick up his gloves. Sanborn openly contemplates killing James by “accidentally” triggering the explosion, making Eldridge very uncomfortable, but Sanborn does nothing.
Returning to Camp Victory in their Humvee, the team encounters five armed men in traditional Arab garb standing near the men’s Ford Excursion, which has a flat tire. After a tense encounter, the men reveal themselves to be private military contractors and British mercenaries. They have captured two prisoners featured on the most-wanted Iraqi playing cards. The entire group suddenly comes under fire, and when the prisoners attempt to escape in the confusion, the leader of the mercenaries (Ralph Fiennes) remembers the bounty for them is “dead or alive” and shoots them. Enemy snipers kill three of the mercenaries, including the leader. Sanborn and James borrow a Barrett .50 cal to dispatch three attackers, while Eldridge kills a fourth.
During a raid on a warehouse, James discovers the body of a young boy, in which a live bomb has been surgically implanted. James believes it to be “Beckham” (Christopher Sayegh), an Iraqi youth he had previously befriended. During evacuation, Lieutenant Colonel John Cambridge (Christian Camargo), the camp’s psychiatrist and a friend of Eldridge’s, is killed in an explosion; Eldridge blames himself for the Colonel’s death. Later, James leaves the military compound seeking revenge for Beckham and breaks into the house of an Iraqi professor, but his search reveals nothing and he leaves.
Called to a petrol tanker detonation, James decides on his own to hunt for the insurgents responsible, guessing they are still in the immediate area. Sanborn protests, but when James heads out, he and Eldridge reluctantly follow. After they split up, insurgents capture Eldridge. James and Sanborn rescue him, but accidentally shoot him in the leg. The following morning, James is approached by Beckham, who James believed was dead. The young boy tries to play soccer with James and sell him more DVDs, but the soldier walks by without saying a word. Before being airlifted for surgery elsewhere, Eldridge angrily blames James for his injury.
James and Sanborn’s unit is called to another mission in their last two days of their rotation. An innocent Iraqi civilian man has had a bomb vest strapped to his chest. James tries to cut off the locks to remove the vest, but there are too many to undo in the time available before the bomb will detonate. He has to abandon the man, who is killed when the bomb explodes. Sanborn is left distraught by the man’s death. He confesses to James that he can no longer cope with the pressure, and he wants to return home and have a son.
After Bravo Company’s rotation ends, James returns home to his ex-wife, Connie (Evangeline Lilly) and their infant son who both still live with him in his house. However, he is bored and disconnected from routine civilian life, with its ordinary tasks of shopping at the supermarket and family dinners. One night, James confesses to his son that there is only one thing that he knows he loves. Shortly thereafter, he starts another tour of duty serving with Delta Company, U.S. Army EOD unit as they are starting their 365-day rotation.
Fully deserving of its Oscar and BAFTA awards Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is an ambitious, intelligent, unsentimental attempt to present the experience of war from the perspective of ordinary soldiers.