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: HANNIBAL RISING

CAST

Gaspard Ulliel  (Saint Laurent)
Li Gong (Curse of The Golden Flower)
Dominic West (300)
Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Helena-Lia Tachovská (Divnovlasky)
Kevin McKidd (Dog Soldiers)
Richard Brake (Halloween II)
Stephen Walters (Outlander)
Robbie Kay (Heroes Reborn)

In 1941, an eight-year-old Hannibal Lecter lives in Lecter Castle in Lithuania. Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union turns the Baltic region into part of the bloodiest front line of World War II. Lecter, his younger sister Mischa, and their parents travel to the family’s hunting lodge in the woods to elude the advancing German troops. After three years, the Nazis are finally driven out of the countries soon to be occupied by the Soviet Union. During their retreat, however, they destroy a Soviet tank that had stopped at the Lecter family’s lodge looking for water. The explosion kills everyone but Lecter and Mischa. They survive in the cottage until six former Lithuanian militiamen, led by a Nazi collaborator named Vladis Grutas, storm and loot it. Finding no other food in the bitterly cold Baltic winter, the men look menacingly at Lecter and Mischa. By 1949, Lecter Castle has been turned into a Soviet orphanage and is ironically housing the interned orphan Hannibal Lecter. After dealing violently with a bully, Lecter escapes from the castle orphanage to Paris to live with his widowed aunt, the Lady Murasaki. While in France, Lecter flourishes as a student. He commits his first murder as a teenager, killing a local butcher who insults his aunt. He is suspected of the murder by Inspector Popil, a French detective who also lost his family in the war. Thanks in part to his aunt’s intervention, Lecter escapes responsibility for the crime.Eventually, Lecter becomes the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France. He receives a working scholarship at a hospital in Paris, where he is given a job preparing cadavers. One day, Lecter witnesses a condemned war criminal receiving a sodium thiopental injection, allowing him to recall details about his war crimes. Consequently, in an attempt to recall the names of those responsible for his sister’s death, Lecter injects himself with the solution. His subsequent flashback reveals to the viewers the men who had killed Mischa, had also cannibalized her as well. Lecter returns to Lithuania in search of his sister’s remains. He excavates the ruins of the lodge where his family died, and upon finding Mischa’s remains, he gives her a proper burial. He also unearths the dog-tags of the deserters who killed his sister. One of them, Dortlich, attempts to kill him but is incapitated by Lecter. After he buries Mischa’s remains, Lecter forces Dortlich to reveal the whereabouts of the rest of his gang, then decapitates Dortlich with a horse-drawn pulley. Dortlich’s blood splashes on Lecter’s face, and he licks it off.Lecter then visits Kolnas’ restaurant in Fontainbleau. He finds his young daughter and notices Mischa’s bracelet on her. He gives her Kolnas’ dogtag. Dortlich’s murder puts the rest of the group on alert and, because of the similarity to the first murder, places Lecter under renewed suspicion from Popil. Grutas, now a sex trafficker, dispatches a second member of the group, Zigmas Milko, to kill him. Lecter kills Milko instead, drowning him in formaldehyde inside his laboratory. Popil then tries to dissuade him from hunting the gang. During a confrontation with Lady Murasaki, Lecter almost has sex with her, but relents after Lady Murasaki begs him not to get revenge, claiming that he made a promise to Mischa. He attacks Grutas in his home but Grutas is rescued by his bodyguards.

Grutas kidnaps Lady Murasaki and calls Lecter, using her as bait. Lecter recognizes the sounds of Kolnas’ birds from his restaurant in the background. Lecter goes there and plays on Kolnas’ emotions by threatening his children. Kolnas gives up the location of Grutas’ boat, but Lecter kills him when Kolnas goes for Lecter’s gun. Lecter goes to the houseboat. In a final confrontation, Grutas claims that Lecter too had consumed his sister in broth fed to him by the soldiers, and he was killing them to keep this fact secret. Enraged, Lecter eviscerates him by carving his sister’s initial into his body. Lady Murasaki, finally disturbed by his behavior, flees from him even after he tells her that he loves her. The houseboat is incinerated, but Lecter, assumed to be dead, emerges from the woods. Lecter hunts down the last member of the group, Grentz, in Canada.MV5BZmRkNTZjN2EtZGVmYi00YTE3LTliMzgtODE5MjU5NzI3NzZiL2ltYWdlL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTEwNDYyNzk@._V1_Well, no Anthony Hopkins so I didn’t expect greatness, but was pleasantly surprised. Gaspard Ulliel did a very good job. I was caught up in the story about how Hannibal got started.  The movie was done very professionally. A good prequel to a great franchise.