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Genre: Drama/Comedy/Romance
Starring: Kelly Hu, Ken Leung, Hayden Panettiere, James Hong, Byron Mann, Joel David Moore
Director: Kern Konwiser &
David Ren
Rating: NC-16 (Scene of Intimacy)
Year Made: 2007



- Behind The Kiss: The Making of Shanghai Kiss
- To Shanghai and Back: An Interview With Cast and Crew
- Commentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Still Gallery



Languages: English
Subtitles: English/Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1/2.0
Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Alliance Entertainment




Liam Liu is a 28-year-old Chinese American actor struggling in Hollywood. Adelaide is a 16-year-old free-spirited genius still in high school. But when a grandmother who Liam never known leaves him a family home he's never seen, he takes a first-time trip to Shanghai that will change both their worlds forever. If life is all about possibilities, can love survive a cultural divide and a huge age gap?


Shanghai Kiss represents the direction that Hollywood, in its dearth of new ideas, should look to for inspiration. Indeed, it is refreshing to see a decidedly independent film that eschews the theme of dysfunctional European American families (just see The Squid and the Whale, The Savages, Margot at the Wedding, and others of the same ilk).

What we have instead in Shanghai Kiss is a romantic drama that enwraps the story of an Asian-American searching for his identity, a challenge confounded by an innate sense of belonging to his parent culture.

Raised in the States from young, Liam’s passion for acting sees him dropping out of Columbia and heading west to Los Angeles for the bright lights and glitter of Tinseltown. But a few years later, he finds himself struggling as an aspiring actor boxed in by the cultural stereotypes of Asian Americans.

"Can you do kung fu? Do you do taekwondo? What belt do you have?" Liam finds himself asked when auditioning for a toothpaste commercial in the movie’s amusing opening scene. America sorely needs greater cultural awareness and understanding. This is one lesson that the movie so aptly portrays, especially in light of recent data that whites will no longer be the majority in 2042.

But more than taking pot-shots at America’s cultural myopia, Shanghai Kiss also captures the cultural dilemmas that second-generation immigrants are likely to face. Liam is forced to re-examine his cultural identity as an unexpected death in the family leads him back to the land of his parents. Although he feels a temporary sense of belonging among people of his race, his inability to converse in Chinese and many of his attitudes and values clearly differ from them.

Therein lies one of the most interesting questions that the always smart and engaging script presents: how much of one’s personal identity is and should be determined by one’s own race? While Asian or Chinese by race, Liam has clearly been brought up in a different culture. In fact, this cultural tension is one which many second-generation immigrants have to grapple with, a tension of assimilation with the majority culture or acculturation of the majority culture with one’s own.

First-time writer-director David Ren makes an impressive debut with Shanghai Kiss, and he is aided most capably by a captivating performance by Ken Leung. While Leung has played bit roles in many movies before, this is probably the first time he has been cast in the lead. Most admirably, he grasps his character’s transformation from a confused individual to one coming to terms with his identity very convincingly.

Asian Americans have seldom come into prominence in American films, with the exception of perhaps Wayne Wang’s films. But Shanghai Kiss is an auspicious beginning to the possibility of more such interesting stories to emerge about this community.

Ultimately, the movie works on many levels, as an intimate character study, as an examination of culture and identity, but most importantly, it succeeds because it is a story with much heart and empathy for its characters, told with a great deal of warmth and sincerity.


The most interesting feature on this Code 3 DVD is the filmmakers’ commentary on the movie. Writer and co-director David Ren gives an interesting take on what is clearly a very personal story for him. Aside, there is "Behind The Kiss: The Making of Shanghai Kiss" which is more a collection of behind the scenes work on the set of the movie than a documentary made about its filming. There is also a featurette "To Shanghai and Back" that features interviews with cast and crew.


Great visual transfer that accentuates the beautiful cinematography by Alexander Buono especially of the nightscapes of Shanghai. Audio is presented in both Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1, although the surround effects are really only more apparent with the songs in the movie.



Review by Gabriel Chong


Other titles from Alliance Entertainment:

. Shutter UNRATED

. Little Fish

This review is made possible with the kind support from
Alliance Entertainment



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