Monday, December 07, 2009
The Longest Night in Shanghai review
Anytime there's some international dual country dorama/movie, it always ends in disaster. See Faye Wong's Uso Koi or Rondo or Fukada Kyoko's Friends. Actually all Fukada Kyoko shows end in disaster but that's besides the point. Most of the time, the aim of the show is to promote or utilise a foreign star. Problem is, foreign star can't speak local language so you end up with a half hearted attempt by the two main characters to communicate with each other and some lame story to make sure that both parties visit each others countries.
The Longest Night in Shanghai is a China/Japan joint production starring Masahiro Motoki (Okuribito) as Mizushima, a charisma stylist who is in Shanghai to do an awards show. Mizushima has reached a turning point in his professional and private life and after what he has achieved, has no idea what he wants. He is bored with his career and his relationship with his girlfriend, who is also his personal assistant has stagnanted. Vicky Zhao (Shaolin Soccer) is Lin Xi, a brash taxi drive who has to take care of her useless brother and has a crush on her mechanic. One could say that the reason she drives so recklessly is so that she can get her taxi damaged.
For someone who's at most a supporting actor, Tsukamoto Takashi's been in some pretty good shows.
On that fateful night, Lin Xi knocks Mizushima down and as an apology, offers to give him a tour of shanghai. Unfortunately, Mizushima has no money, mobile or any idea where he was suppose to stay. At its core, The Longest Night in Shanghai is a fish out of water story. Mizushima is lost in a foreign land with Lin Xi as his reluctant tour guide. They are barely able to communicate; Mizushima knows some English but Lin Xi doesn't. She wants to get rid of him and does, but she comes back to his aid despite being preoccupied with her personal problems.
They encounter various adventures throughout the night and of course come to terms with their emotions and personal problems. I won't spoil what happens but its remarkable that a movie with two people speaking different languages and constantly misunderstanding each other can be so entertaining. Credit the actors and the script. There's some laugh out load moments, especially Takenaka Naoto's (Shall we Dance?) Bruce Lee scene. His imitation is uncanny. For a movie director by a Chinese, the Japanese parts are really good and don't feel fake like when Western movies have Japanese speaking parts and dialogue and characters don't feel authentic.
If there's one real weak link in this movie, its the side story of the megane dude in the bar. Its obvious they want to make it a story about love and relationships, blah blah blah and give everyone a story but megane dude and the American singer story is laugh out bad. First, his English is shit. Second, the dialogue is pathetically fake. Similar to my comment about Japanese in American shows, this is the result of an actor who can't speak English spouting words written by someone who has no idea how lame the dialogue is in English. Good thing its only a minor part of the movie but its so bad it sticks out like a sore thumb.
I highly recommend The Longest Night in Shanghai. Movies with a chinese director doing a half Japanese/Chinese romantic comedy which is different from the norm and using the language barrier has a tool for exploring a story don't come around very often.