Director Daniel Hsia’s “Shanghai Calling” Breaks Through Racial Stereotypes

Article by Cindy Maram

“Shanghai Calling”
US Cinema
US/China 2012 | 100 Minutes

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Shanghai Calling starring Daniel Henney

Shanghai Calling starring Daniel Henney

It is rumored that Sam Chau (handsome Korean American superstar Daniel Henney), a slick, ambitious,  successful attorney from New York City, was going to become partner in his New York law firm. But when called into the meeting with his bosses, he discovers that he is not getting the promotion that he had hoped for and instead, is being sent to China to work for the firm with a quirky and wealthy entrepreneur (Alan Ruck) who wants to mass produce a new invention. Arriving in Shanghai, he prepares for the worst since he does not know the Chinese culture nor speak the language. At the airport he is greeted by Amanda (Eliza Coupe), a clever relocation specialist who ironically is a pretty blond, blue-eyed Caucasian girl who speaks fluent Chinese. Sam is not interested in the Chinese girls that the other foreign men are so obsessed with, but falls for Amanda. At restaurants, the waitresses mistakenly give Sam menus in Chinese and Amanda menus in English, which is quite amusing and comedic. However, since he is of Chinese origin and “looks” Chinese, the people of Shanghai expect him to speak Mandarin and be versed in Chinese ways and Amanda, just the opposite. It is apparent that the film is exemplifying the common error that so many people make, to judge others by their skin color and outer appearance. Not only is “Shanghai Calling” a romantic comedy, but it has a deeper purpose to bring to light racial stereotypes that are ingrained in our psyches and the need to break out of this rigid, restrictive mindset. The film also conveys to the audience that we should not be set in our ways and be open to new possibilities.

“Shanghai Calling” gives us a humorous and distressful look into the lucrative and growing business world of Shanghai through the eyes of a foreigner who is thrown into a country where he is lost and confused. Through his calamity he finds love and grows to be a better person. He realizes that he was chasing the wrong dream and the trip that he feared and detested the most became the best trip of his life.

Director/Screenwriter: Daniel Hsia
Producers: Janet Yang, Han Sanping, Qi Ziyi, Xia Zheng, Zhao Yuting
Cinematographer: Armando Salas
Editor: Pamela March
Cast: Daniel Henney, Eliza Coupe, Geng Le, Zhu Zhu, Alan Ruck, Bill Paxton
Print Source: Aldamisa International

Show Times: For more information visit the 35th Mill Valley Film Festival Website

Saturday, October 13, 7:15 PM – Sequoia 1
Sunday, October 14, 1:45 PM – Rafael 1



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