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Shanghai Surprise


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Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Penn, Madonna, Paul Freeman, Richard Griffiths, Philip Sayer
  • Directors: Jim Goddard
  • Writers: John Kohn, Robert Bentley, Tony Kenrick
  • Producers: Denis O'Brien, George Harrison, John Kohn, Robin Douet
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2003
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009NHAJ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,200 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shanghai Surprise" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Sean Penn, Madonna. Romance sparks between a missionary searching for opium and a fortune hunter in 1930s China. 1986/color/93 min/PG-13/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

It's not as bad as people say it is, and I've watched it a few times.
H. D. Harvey
The acting is over-the-top and the plot a little far-fetched, but the movie doesn't deserve the reputation it has.
Da Man
Production values are good, Sean and Madonna turn in respectable performances.
Mark D. Serbin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Parodi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 2011
Format: DVD
While I won't go so far as to say that this is a good film, it's actually not that bad, or at least not as bad as you've heard. In fact, as a pop culture artifact it's actually quite interesting 25 years down the line.

Sean Penn is now revered as one of the great actors of his generation, and Madonna's status as the most prolific female pop singer of all time is secured. (Love her or hate her, it's hard to ignore a pop culture presence spanning three decades with over 200 million albums sold!) It's interesting to look back at this film and remember that upon release, Madonna had really only been a superstar for two years (1985 was her breakout year) and many were still predicting she'd soon fade into oblivion, and Sean Penn was still considered a young Hollywood bad boy, one of the "Brat Pack." Together, they were referred to as "The Poison Penns." A lot can change in 25 years!

As someone who lived through the 1980s, I recall all the hatred focused on this movie at the time of release. It was made out to be pretty much the worst film ever made, almost as though Madonna and Sean Penn had committed some great moral sin. Because it was only in the theatres for about a week, I didn't have the chance to see this film in the theatres. To be honest, I didn't even know it had been made until I saw a poster in the local video store advertising it was soon to be released on video. So, I did rent it when it was released, and I remember at the time agreeing that it was an awful film. But, in retrospect, I think I was just bowing to peer pressure. I think I just thought I HAD to hate this film.

I just found a used VHS copy at the video store for a buck, and so I bought it for 80s nostalgia sake. Brought it home, watched it, and was surprised by what I saw.
Read more ›
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2004
Format: DVD
I am a huge Madonna fan. I love her music. I love her movies (not because I think she can act but because they're always so bad they're good). But this movie is an exception to all the others. It's just bad. Words can't describe. I think what made it so painful was the fact that it went on forever. Just when you think it's over something else happens. Once that's over with something ELSE happens. After that, something ELSE happens. And then something else. And then something else. And all that really happens is Madonna and Sean Penn run around like idiots. I'm sure this movie must be really embarassing for them. Madonna's performance is so wooden and if Sean weren't cute he wouldn't be any fun to watch either.
I wish I could give this movie 0 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. R. Trigg on March 17, 2004
Format: DVD
The story is rubbish, the acting is bad, however I did enjoy it in some perverse way! (One of those, its so bad its good films perhaps?)
Know-one comes out of this film unscathed. Penn's character is completely annoying; his histrionics really grated on my nerves and Madonna's acting has never been worse (the crying scene has got to be seen to be believed).
The scenery is beautiful though, and possibly the only other noteable thing this film has going for it, is that Madonna is absolutely stunning in it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Zenkitty on January 21, 2005
Format: DVD
i saw this movie in the theater when i was a kid (the place was completely empty). i haven't seen it in ages since but i just got the dvd and i didn't remember it being so good. what an enjoyable film.

madonna and sean are both sexy and adorable. the plot is full of fun twists and the ending is so uplifting. i don't think it's anything oscar-worthy but it does what a good movie should do: it entertains.

along with desperately seeking susan and who's that girl, this is one of madonna's most natural performances. she doesn't overpower the movie the way she has in all her post-league of their own work (that power only worked to her advantage in evita).

also, she's not as mannered and affected here as she is in later films. the only stiff part is in the beginning (where one newspaper reviewer said she seemed to be reading off cue cards) where gloria is treating glendon with distaste. i guess it's hard for madonna to play "stiff" without seeming like she's acting.

but the rest of her performance is very natural. her smile at the end when sean takes her arm and makes her wave to faraday is extraordinary, on par with the acting of a good romantic comedy actress like sandra bullock or julia roberts.

i can see why sean and madonna wanted to do this. it had the potential to be well-received (though period screwball comedies/love stories were an outdated genre after 1975) but i think the media can make or break you. the media was really fed up with the poison penns and that's why they trashed this movie.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Huang on April 17, 2007
Format: DVD
It's hard to believe that 21 years have passed since this Madonna-Sean Penn disaster was first released. And time has not worked any wonders on this clumsily plotted, awkwardly incompetent movie. What you get with this SPECIAL EDITION release is a beautifully remastered picture with 5.1 sound, a gaggle of special features which are quite funny (one of which I'm actually on--listen for me on the fans commentary, I'm the bitchy New Yorker in the room!). It's a movie only a dedicated Madonna fan could love, and if you are one, then you simply must upgrade!
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