Films: Shanghai Calling

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Shanghai Calling

Shanghai Calling

USA, 2012, 100 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: China
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Romance
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: English, Mandarin English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Daniel Hsia
Producer: Janet Yang
Editor: Pamela March
Screenwriter: Daniel Hsia
Cinematographer: Armando Salas
Principal Cast: Daniel Henney, Eliza Coupe, Geng Le, Zhu Zhu, Alan Ruck, Bill Paxton

Daniel Hsia’s debut feature blends humor and romance in a classic fish-out-of-water tale about a Chinese-American in modern Shanghai. Partnered with producer Janet Yang (The Joy Luck Club), Hsia spent several months of research in China. True stories from American expatriates inspired his script. “Now that China is becoming a global powerhouse, all the big companies are opening offices there,” Hsia says. “We’re no longer the center of the universe.”

When Shanghai Calling begins, protagonist Sam (Daniel Henney), an American of Chinese descent, controls his universe. An aggressive New York attorney, he vies to make partner, but his bosses send him to China to open a satellite office instead. Sam packs his bags and a bad attitude for the trip. When attractive relocation specialist Amanda (Eliza Coupe, Community, Scrubs) meets his plane, she tries to help him adjust to culture shock. Amanda has found Sam a luxurious apartment in a high-rise building in the heart of Shanghai. Only problem, it’s still under construction. Sam insults her, his new assistant Fang Fang, and basically everyone he meets. Amanda introduces him to Donald (Bill Paxton, Big Love), the “mayor” of the American expatriate community, with hopes that Sam will fit in. After he makes a costly mistake with a major client, Sam needs help from all the people he’s rebuffed. Teamed with investigative reporter Awesome Wang, Sam finally immerses himself in Shanghai culture and discovers romance along the way.

In the opening scenes, Shanghai Calling makes the statement, “Shanghai is like a beautiful woman.” Hsia intersperses seductive images of the magnificent city into the film, and interjects humor with cross-cultural references. When Sam first meets Wang in a noodle house, he wants to have a private conversation, but, as custom dictates, more and more diners crowd around the tiny table to slurp their dinner.


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