VOD Releases: The Shanghai Job (2018) - Reviewed

The Shanghai Job is an action movie starring Orlando Bloom as the owner of a Shanghai security company specializing in the transportation of art. Despite an okay lead, a quick pace, some decent action and a good use of the story’s location, it is just not a very interesting movie. 

At the beginning of the film, Danny Stratton (Bloom, from the Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit franchises) is attacked while transporting a Van Gogh painting. The painting is stolen and Danny’s company’s reputation takes a big hit. The film moves forward a year and things are bleak for Danny. His business is struggling and his girlfriend, Ling (Lynn Hung) leaves him because of his lack of confidence. Due to a recommendation from Ling, Mr. Song (Ying Da) hires Danny to move an incredibly valuable vase from a museum in Shanghai to a museum in London. Danny sees this as a huge opportunity to repair both his personal and professional lives. Of course, someone immediately tries to steal the vase, thus setting him and his team off on a mission to protect it and take down the thieves at the same time. 

The team consists of Danny, the leader and face of the company, Mach (Simon Yam), Ling’s Uncle and the muscle of the group, J. Jae (Hannah Quinlivan), the cynical member of the team and the lone female, and tech guy Ding Dong (Lei Wu), a teenager who uses a drone to conduct surveillance and has a crush on a girl he has never spoken to (Nana, played by Ruoxi Wang). 

All of the characters are introduced efficiently in a way that explains exactly what type of person they are without taking up much screen time. Since the film is not really about them as people, I appreciate that they did not waste time with a lot of unnecessary setup. Unfortunately, the story, despite a few mild surprises, does not have much in the way of depth or creativity, either. 

The Shanghai Job relies almost exclusively on its action to keep things moving. There are a couple of decent chase scenes (with the best coming during the transportation of the vase), but it becomes repetitive well before the end. The best element of the action sequences is the use of the drone. Ding Dong uses it to direct the team during car chases, spy on the bad guys and distract people. It is a nice change from the security cameras or spy devices that are usually utilized in these types of films (though I did wonder how no one noticed a small helicopter hovering around the city). It is pretty clever and at least felt somewhat fresh in a movie that otherwise does not contain a single original idea. The characters are bland and the story feels underwritten, but at least the drone is pretty cool. 

The Shanghai Job will be released in the UK on VOD on January 29th and on DVD February 5th from Signature Entertainment.

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-Ben Pivoz