Shanghai Mystery

| September 27, 2011

Meili (Vivian Wu) wears many hats. She is a career woman, wife, mother of an 8 year old boy, and friend. When her husband is murdered while traveling in China on his way to sign a joint-venture business contract, her hats are changed to widow and single parent. Her son starts running away from home and his grades decline at school. Grief and guilt fuel her desire to seek revenge against her husband’s killer. She harbors guilt because she pushed her husband to enter a deal based on her selfish desire to have more fortune and power. She grieves her husband so much that throughout the film, she has visions of him in the same room. It appears that these visions will not stop until she finds his killer.
Meili turns to Mr. Feng, a business man connected to the modern day Shanghai Underworld for a gun and tips on whom to go after. When going for the kill, Vivian dresses in a red silk dress, wears black shades and carries a black purse where she hides her weapon. Mr. Feng deceptively gives Meili one name after another to murder. Meili tells Mr. Feng she has had enough with murdering and wants to part ways. An undercover cop looms in the background observing and following Meili’s every move. Mr. Feng won’t take no for an answer and tries to reason with her that she must complete one last murder or her son’s life would be in jeopardy.
Meanwhile she takes a translator job with Michael Johnson (Richard Burgi), an American businessman who says he’s looking to purchase real estate in Shanghai and expand his business. He claims he needs a translator to deal with the real estate brokers. Michael grows fond of Meili, goes on a date with her, eventually meets her son, and tells her he is love with her. Meili finds out the mysterious Michael Johnson works for Mr. Feng, speaks perfect Mandarin, and is her husband’s killer. Meili explains this entire story from an interrogation room to a lawyer assigned to the case.
Vivian Wu and Richard Burgi bring zeal to an otherwise predictable and lackluster plot. The supporting actors could have been developed more to heighten dramatic suspense and surprise throughout the film. I found myself bored at times. Although Shanghai’s skyline in the backdrop of several scenes was amazing, Shanghai Mystery struggled with conveying elements of intensity.
Shanghai Mystery pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed along the way.

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An attorney residing in NYC serving the film and digital media community.
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