Director: Jim Goddard Release Date: August 29th, 1986 Distributor: MGM Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes Rating: PG-13 Film Budget: $17 mil Well, all I should really have to say is "Madonna's in it." But I'll share the trailer and give you some more info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWakkD1235E From watching it, I couldn't explain any of the plot to you, but I will quote from IMDB (parenthesis mine): "Glendon Wasey (Sean Penn) is a fortune hunter looking for a fast track out of China. Gloria Tatlock (Madonna) is a missionary nurse seeking the curing powers of opium for her patients. Fate sets them on a hectic, exotic, and even romantic quest for stolen drugs. But they are up against every thug and smuggler in Shangai(sic)." It's clear that this film was a vehicle for the newlyweds to work together - not that you'd know they were married because there's zero chemistry between the two of them. But maybe that's why it didn't last... It's trying to go for an Indiana Jones or Romancing the Stone vibe, but it can't pull it off. It's set in a white-washed, turn-of-the-century Shanghai where everyone speaks English and prostitution is 50% of the city's commerce. Like most Madonna films, her character appears like someone who's shadowing another actor in the frame and is confused about her responsibilities at the time. I have no idea if she sometimes meant to over-act as a way of being campy for the film, or if she was really trying. I try to avoid her canon so I have little to compare it to. But I can be sure that she whines throughout the entire half of the film and you just want to slap her in the face by the 1 hour mark. The bad guy in the film, Mei Gan, gets his hands blown off in the first five minutes of the film (spoilers!) and later replaces them with what I can only guess are contemporary mannequin hands. No, really - shiny white plastic lady mannequin hands. Don't worry though, because they are fully functional. He smokes cigarettes and crushes Penn's hand with them, so maybe an improvement on the hands he was born with? You don't need opposable thumbs for either of those actions. Oddly, George Harrison (the George Harrison) produced and sound tracked the film. There was a never a full release of the soundtrack but some of the songs were featured on his album Cloud Nine. He also does make a small cameo in the film as a singer in a club. If the film isn't playing one of his songs, it's instead a stereotypical Chinese tune, or "Chopsticks." The whole film is borderline racist but again, I don't know if the goal was to be campy or not, though that's still not an excuse. Fun facts: - Richard Griffiths is in this! Love that guy. He deserved better - he's in the OBE for Christ's sake. - It cost $17 mil to make and made $2.3 mil domestically. It was a British production so I do not know how much it made there, but I would doubt it got back the investment. It made less than $1 mil in its opening weekend, which means it had the 122th best opening weekend of a film released in 1986. - Because the movie had such a crap opening, MGM pulled its marketing budget after the first weekend. An executive from MG says the reason why was "the interest in the film has been non-existent." - The film was nominated for six Golden Razzies: Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actress, Worst Screenplay, Worst Original Song, and Worst Actor (Sean Penn). It only won one of these: Worst Actress for Madonna. Some current ratings: IMDB: 3/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 13% And finally, some Second Opinions from Amazon.com (sic any errors): "Surprise! This is a pretty good movie!" "Reading most of the reviewers who have a marginal opinion of "Shanghai Surprise" they give it damning faint praise by saying it's not as bad as its reputation suggests. Man up and admit it's a pretty good movie. The critics in its day made hay of the film saving their worst venom for Madonna. She's not going to win any Oscars for her turn as a missionary in Thirties China but she gives a very sweet account of herself in only her second feature role. Sean Penn as the American opportunist/glow-in-the-dark tie salesman is quite charismatic and dashing. The story is relatively riveting and the film contains stunning exotic period detail. Lastly, producer George Harrison, who also appears in a nightclub scene, contributes some terrific songs to the soundtrack. I give this film my unequivocal recommedation with very few reservations." "Five Stars" "Gift" "NOT BAD, REALLY" "I got this as George Harrison was the $$ behind the movie and had to make a special trip to Asia to clam down the battling Penn's. i am a big fan of the movies that George Harrison/Handmade Films produced. Production values are good, Sean and Madonna turn in respectable performances. Harrison makes a cameo as a night club singer and provided the music. Possibly an under rated movie with a great sound track." "good movie" "I actually like this movie. It's not as bad as people say it is, and I've watched it a few times. Mostly of course because Madonna looks so damn good in it. I'm not too sure about Sean penn though, and I still don't understand what Madonna saw in him. It's not the best acting role for any of the two but if you want to relax in front of the tv with a movie you don't have to think so much about while watching, this is it."