Shanghai Calling – A Movie About Expats for Expats in Shanghai

Splash page from the official website

I’m going to come right and say it , Shanghai Calling isn’t a great movie. It’s a decent movie , maybe even a good movie , but great it ain’t. If you want to see an example of what I consider to be a great movie set in China check out the amazing Red Light Revolution

Usually the Romantic Comedy genre isn’t quite for me, although it can be worth a few laughs. What the movie makes up for in plot and believability is the setting – Shanghai. You can tell the writers have a love for the city and want to show it off, and that is what saves the movie for me. Actually filmed in Shanghai ,apparently quite hard to get filming permission , I loved picking out sites that I knew , ” Hey that’s Southern Belle!” ” I had drinks there for St.Patty’s!” “Ohh that’s the coffee shop I used to go after classes on Friday!” and just marveling in the cinematic sweeps of the Pudong Skyline that were so popular in the movie. The best part of the setting for me was thinking that one of the main’s characters’ , Fang Fang , family’s neighborhood looked quite familiar , and then confirming it when an address sign appeared. 162 JianGuo Xi Rd! I knew it! It’s Bu Gao Li, the old style Shanghai Shikumen neighborhood that lies directly next to my apartment. Seriously. That was awesome. Maybe not so much for others. I just wished Fang Fang really lived there. She’s so hot!

Fang Fang’s bio from the Shanghai Calling website

Another thing that made the movie enjoyable were some of the jokes that I could definitely relate too , myself being an expat in Shanghai .

Construction on the apartment next to yours at 8am? Check.

Waitresses continuing to speak only with your Chinese friend even after you’ve (non-Asian) proved yourself capable of speaking Chinese? Check.

Funny Aiyi? (maid) Of course!

Foreign Actors being hired to impersonate a Lawyer or Businessman? Check.

Cute little blonde hair , blue-eyed , girl preferring to speak Chinese? Yes! I especially like this one with my experiences at the Kindergarten. ( This one little Caucasian is much more confident with Chinese and will address me (another foreigner) in Chinese. Hahaha.

Some of the stuff in the movie was strange and I didn’t quite get it.

English teacher (and one who is fond of calling off) buying a brand new Cadillac as his ride? How the hell did that happen? I can only dream of getting a nice car on my salary, and then I would be too terrified to drive something nice in the chaotic traffic.

The main characters running into each other on the Bund’s promenade two or three times? True it gives the cameras an excuse to do another panoramic of the Pudong Skyline but seriously of those who live in Shanghai , how often do you make that riverside walk? That is a complete tourist thing to do. Sure I’ve made the walk plenty of times , when I was showing my visiting friends and family ! I think I would be a bit hard pressed to take a date there.

So, If you happen to be interested in the city of Shanghai itself , get a glimpse of expat life, or like romantic comedies (:/) check it out.

It’s only showing in the movies theatres in China right now ,and in an ironic twist straight from the movie’s main plot is also available in our pirated DVD shops. (Barely opened in the theaters , that was fast!) Keep an eye out for it in upcoming American, European , and Asian film festivals.

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2 thoughts on “Shanghai Calling – A Movie About Expats for Expats in Shanghai

    • Exactly, a few good jokes and the location are the only redeeming qualities to an otherwise mediocre movie but wow what a location! (Although seriously , which expat living in Shanghai walks on the Bund all the time?) Worth a cheap DVD purchase but not the expensive trip to the theater.

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