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Shanghai Surprise (Special Edition) (1986)

Sean Penn , Madonna , Jim Goddard  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

List Price: $14.98
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  Special Edition $6.21  

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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, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,259 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shanghai Surprise (Special Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This adventure set in 1930's China traces the exploits of a handsome fortune hunter looking for boat fare out of the country, and a beautiful missionary looking for opium to help her patients. Stars Sean Penn and Madonna.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as bad as you've heard December 28, 2011
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.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painfully bad July 13, 2004
By A Customer
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad... but perversely enjoyable March 17, 2004
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
5.0 out of 5 stars give it a chance January 21, 2005
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must For The Madonna Completist! April 17, 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An oldie but still a goodie..
Loved this years ago when I first saw it.. Madonna and Sean still have the ability to make me laugh when I watch it.. Very funny and great to watch again..
Published 4 months ago by Corinne Beusch
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT BAD, REALLY
I got this as George Harrison was the $$ behind the movie and had to make a special trip to Asia to clam down the battling Penn's. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mark D. Serbin
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all about my muse MADONNA
As a collector of anything and everything MADONNA this is a cherished addition. This came out when I was much younger and it brought a flood of welcomed memories.
Published 9 months ago by Edward Palmer
1.0 out of 5 stars Shanghai Surprise
This film is old enough it should be available for viewing at no cost. Apologies accepted in advance. Why isn't it?
Published 9 months ago by mlmetz5612
4.0 out of 5 stars Is a good light comedy
Before to see the movie I thought that was a bad one but after look it I realli think that is a movier to see without preventions
Published 12 months ago by Leonardo Andres Cortez Ruiz
5.0 out of 5 stars Shanghi Surprise A Pleasant Surprise!!!
The acting was good. The story was good . the soundtrack was great! the camera shots were excellant. TRy it -Buy it !!!
Published 16 months ago by honey badger
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth it!
I know this movie gets a bad rep. But it has some really great actors/actresses. It's good enough to have for a collection especially if you are a fan of Victor Wong!
Published 18 months ago by Anthony Gentile
5.0 out of 5 stars Madonna...
now a classinc Madronna picture from the Lady Orinetal Fortune Cookie delight for all Madronna fans...a great adventuire storfy with Oriental flavoure!
Published 18 months ago by blueberrybanshee6014
5.0 out of 5 stars Would order again
I would order again and I loved the movie. It was fast service and good movie quality to watch .
Published 19 months ago by Vickie
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
This film do not have a sucess on cinemas, but I love it. This dvd is wonderful. I love Madonna and I love S Surprise!
Published 20 months ago by Jorge Luiz
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