WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Oh, sweet mother of our lord, this is a terrible film and a terrible DVD. You can imagine Artisan curling its lip while looking at this title and thinking, Let's just get this thing out there and be done with it! I understand the need to get something like this behind you, because I'm feeling the same thing while writing this review.
This is one of those rare discs that, instead of motivating me to write coherently about the film's flaws and misfires, instead makes me want to sit here at the keyboard and just hammer away at the keys. At some point, after perhaps an hour or two of mashing my palms against the keys like that, a screenplay would surely materialize that is more effective than that of Shanghai Surprise.
This is a film that stars Madonna as a missionary nurse named Tatlock, and Sean Penn as a shady American named Glendon Wasey. Yeah, Glendon Wasey. They join forces in an odd search for a heap of opium, and there's lots of quirky little sound effects and sexual innuendo and a bath in foul-smelling fish water. There's George Harrison music that sounds desperately out of place. There's an Asian dude who likes baseball. There's a bad guy played by that fellow who ate a fly in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Can we just stop there?
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Artisan presents Shanghai Surprise in a pan-and-scan waste of time that adds insult to injury. The print is aged-looking and soft with washed-out colors. It's an all-around mediocre presentation.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track sounds very much of its time. Sound is rooted at the center, and everything comes across as a bit tinny and hollow. You won't find much depth here.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
In case I wasn't clear, you might want to avoid this one. Unless you're a fan, in which case you have my sympathies...and a mediocre DVD.