Review: ‘The Longest Night in Shanghai’

A fussy stylist and a tomboy cabbie team up in "The Longest Night in Shanghai"

A fussy Japanese stylist and a tomboy Chinese cabbie go all through the night in “The Longest Night in Shanghai,” a well-paced, fluidly-lensed romantic dramedy with a peachy part for Mainland thesp Vicki Zhao. Full of local flavor without becoming a tourist brochure, pic is weakened by a lack of chemistry between the two leads, with Nipponese actor Masahiro Motoki too wooden opposite the sprightly Zhao. However, with director Zhang Yibai’s name attached (“Spring Subway,” “Curiosity Kills the Cat”), Asian-centered events may flag this down.

Script invents enough semi-convincing reasons to keep together Naoki Mizushima (Motoki), in town for some music awards, and feisty taxi driver Lin Xi (Zhao). Neither speaks a word of the other’s language and Naoki can’t even remember the name of his hotel. As his assistants and bozo interpreter (Hong Kong’s Sam Lee) search for Naoki, love blooms between several players, including Naoki’s crazy agent (Naoto Takenaka) and a pert female cop (Zhang Xinyi). Pic shuttlecocks between the corny and the involving, but Zhao’s natural perf and Shanghai itself (always front and center, knitted into the action) keep things watchable.

The Longest Night in Shanghai

Japan-China

Production

A Movie-Eye Entertainment, Avex Entertainment, Yahoo! Japan, Big Shot, I&S BBDO (Japan)/Megajoy Pictures, Guanshi (BJ) Culture (China) production, in association with China Film. (International sales: Movie-Eye, Tokyo.) Produced by Taku Ushiyama, Xu Wen, Yumiko Takebe. Executive producers, Kaz Tadashiki, Lu Wensheng. Directed by Zhang Yibai. Screenplay, Zhang, Gao Yan, Yuji Yamamura.

Crew

Camera (color), Yang Tao; editor, Zhang Yifan; music, Tearbridge Production; art director, Gu Wenzai; costumes, Wen Yan. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 22, 2007. (Also in Shanghai Film Festival -- New Chinese Films.) Original Mandarin title: Ye. Shanghai. Mandarin, Japanese, English dialogue. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Masahiro Motoki, Vicki Zhao, Naomi Nishida, Takashi Tsukamoto, Naoto Takenaka, Dylan Kuo, Sohkoh Wada, Sam Lee, Shinobu Otsuka, Feng Li, Zhang Xinyi.
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