Shanghai is a 2010 American mystery/thriller neo-noir film directed by Mikael Håfström, starring John Cusack and Gong Li. The film was released in China on June 17, 2010. It has never been released in the United States.
In December 1941, during the World War II, an American agent from the Naval Intelligence Office (Cusack) arrives in Shanghai to find his friend (who is also an agent) Conner recently murdered. Determined to find out who killed Conner and why, he begins working at the Herald using the alias Paul Soames, a Nazi-sympathizer cover he used while stationed in Berlin. He meets Anthony Lan-Ting (an influential crime lord) and Captain Tanaka at the German embassy in Shanghai, during an invitation only event. He later befriends Anthony when he saves Anthony during an attack on Japanese officers by the Chinese Resistance at a night club.
Paul realizes that it was Mrs. Lan-Ting who actually organized the attack and decides to help her pass on messages. After finally meeting up with Conner’s contact in the Japanese Consulate, Paul finds out that Conner had an affair with a Japanese girl named Sumiko and after searching her place, Paul uncovers numerous photos, which Conner took, in a darkroom nearby. Some of the photos include Captain Tanaka, other Japanese officers and the aircraft carrier Kaga.
Unconvinced that Sumiko betrayed Conner, he determines to find the girl and get the answers he seeks. After a few more encounters with Mrs. Lan-Ting, Anthony Lan-Ting, Captain Tanaka, and investigating at an opium house, Paul realizes that Sumiko was Captain Tanaka’s lover and was seduced by Conner to spy for him. Paul’s cover is blown when Conner’s contact is arrested, and Paul gets interrogated by Captain Tanaka regarding the whereabouts of Sumiko, whose location he does not know. After being released, Mrs. Lan-Ting takes Paul to a safe house where she has been hiding Sumiko, who was on the verge of death due to withdrawal from opium and possibly other illnesses.
Outside, Mr. Lan-Ting arrives with Captain Tanaka and this confirms all of Tanaka’s suspicions, but this is the only way to save Mrs. Lan-Ting. Inside the safe house, Tanaka informs Paul that the Japanese fleet started attacking Pearl Harbor one hour earlier and that the invasion of Shanghai is also underway. Tanaka admits to killing Conner, but only out of jealousy as he found out about Conner and Sumiko. A visibly distraught Tanaka asks for Paul’s help in administering drugs to ease Sumiko’s death. After Sumiko dies, everyone gets ready to leave, but Tanaka wants to question Mrs. Lan-Ting which infuriates Mr. Lan-Ting who guns down Tanaka’s bodyguards and seriously wounds Tanaka himself. Before he can kill Tanaka, Mr. Lan-Ting is fatally wounded by a dying bodyguard.
Leaving behind a wounded Tanaka, Paul drives the Lan-Tings away through the burning streets of Shanghai and with his last words, Mr. Lan-Ting asks Paul to take Mrs. Lan-Ting out of Shanghai, which he successfully does. Before getting on the ship, Paul and Mrs. Lan-Ting encounter Tanaka once again, but Tanaka decides not to acknowledge them, perhaps because Paul helped him at Sumiko’s deathbed. It is revealed later that both Paul and Mrs. Lan-Ting, at some point, returned to Shanghai.