“Shanghai Kiss”

By Jae-Ha Kim
October 9, 2007

Set in two dichotomous worlds, Shanghai Kiss tells the story of a Chinese-American actor who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. In his hometown, he’s considered a foreigner even though he’s American.

And in his family’s native China, his mannerisms make him stick out in sea of familiar faces.

Ken Leung (The Sopranos) does a wonderful job portraying Liam Liu, a complicated young man whose flirtation with the teenage Adelaide (Hayden Panettiere, Heroes) is reminiscent of Timothy Hutton’s cautious infatuation with the Natalie Portman character in 1996’s Beautiful Girls. It could’ve been played a little creepy, but the relationship between the unlikely couple is sweet.

When Liam inherits his grandmother’s estate in Shanghai, he travels to China thinking he will sell the property and head back home.

But “home” becomes a more elusive concept when he realizes that his feelings are torn between two countries and, with the meeting of Micki Yang (Kelly Hu, X2), two women.

There are several moments when the film has the feel of an afterschool special (Liam’s father blaming him for his mother’s death), but overall Shanghai Kiss tells a love story in an honest, if not completely realistic way. Feelings aren’t cut and dried, and people aren’t interchangeable.


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