Shanghai Surprise (1986) (part 11 of 11)

Sean and Madonna rickshaw down to the dock, then take a motorboat on over to a cruise ship in the harbor. Apparently, this is the cruise ship taking Faraday back to Los Angeles. They climb up onto the ship, making their way through throngs of people. Madonna reminds Sean that Faraday has a gun, so Sean swipes the umbrella from an unsuspecting traveler. Sorry, Sean, but that only works for Patrick Macnee.

They easily find Faraday’s cabin, because it was oh-so-conveniently going to be Sean’s cabin. Sean peers through the window, and it seems the Opium King has left both his gun and the jewels lying in plain sight, unattended on a bedside table. God, I hope this is a trap, and he’s not nearly that much of an idiot.

Caption contributed by Albert

The cover of Ian Fleming’s Chinese Checkers Are Forever.

They head inside and snag the jewels. Just then, Faraday emerges from the bathroom, looking all surprised with his face covered in shaving cream. Sadly, he doesn’t ask Madonna if she’s Lois Lane. Sean grabs the gun and points it at him, and Faraday says, “You two must be related to Houdini!” Because that sure was an airtight, foolproof trap you left them in, Mr. Opium King. At this point, I’m willing to believe big piles of opium just kind of fell out of the sky and happened to land near him.

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But Faraday has bad news to break: The gems are fakes. To demonstrate, he takes a supposed “diamond”, and Sean’s deadly umbrella, and smashes the “diamond” into powder. He says that wascally China Doll done tricked him again.

Sean decides to test this theory, sensibly using the butt of his gun to smash another gem. Good thinking. And Madonna is only standing directly behind him when he does this. I’m assuming he was trying to take her out, but doing it in such a way as to leave enough wiggle room to claim “accidental shooting”.

Caption contributed by Albert

“This is fun! What else can I smash? Gimme a bag of peanuts!”

Faraday takes the gun from Sean and offers it to Madonna, so that she too can smash a gem. He calls this, “Very therapeutic! Rid you of a lot of frustration!”

She doesn’t take the bait, though, and just glumly plops down in a chair. And then we cut to a close-up of Faraday where the pattern of shaving cream on his face has completely changed. It’s such a glaring continuity error that my demented mind starts to think it’s intentional. And now that I think about it, this might possibly have been spoofed on an episode of Moonlighting around the same time, in a scene where the shaving cream on Bruce Willis’ face disappeared and reappeared from shot to shot. But don’t quote me on that. (Hey, after learning The Animaniacs spoofed Leonard Part 6, I’m somewhat willing to believe anything.)

Faraday declares that it’s all over, and the jig is up. He once again reminds everybody about the opium, but alas, it’s all a pipe dream. “Faraday’s Flowers are just a wilted memory!” In the aftermath of this lame caper, Sean mumbles that he could hang out “here”—does he mean Shanghai, the cruise ship, or what?—and be a missionary.

Faraday says, “You mean, no drinking, no gambling, no whoring?” Faraday says he’s tried this, and it’s “hell on earth”. I’m guessing the “no whoring” part is especially hellacious.

Then comes the “all aboard” call, meaning Madonna’s got to get off the ship. And so we get a fond farewell scene between Sean and Madonna. He’s still calling her “Miss Tatlock” as he delivers some rather non-memorable parting words.

She leaves, and Faraday tells him he made the right decision. He says Madonna is a “nice girl”, but “who needs nice girls?” Watch it, there. You’re two men who are about to be sharing a bunk bed for the next month. Perhaps it’s best to wait a few days before getting into the whole “who needs dames” line of conversation.

Faraday returns to the bathroom to finish shaving, and promises they’ll break open a “bottle of bubbly” a little later. He declares that Sean will become a “rich man” with his streamer trunks full of ties. Which, some way or another, Faraday has brought with him. But of course. Makes perfect sense. Even when absconding with rare gems, you really can’t forget the glow in the dark ties.

Anyway, “Someplace Else” kicks in again as Sean peers out the window, and sees Madonna on a boat headed out of his life. For no particular reason, everyone else on the boat waves goodbye, almost like they’re seeing off the Love Boat on its voyage to sunny Puerto Vallarta.

Caption contributed by Albert

So, she’s on a boat with 20 guys and the boat has HUNG in the name. Madonna is set to have more fun than the 1992 NBA All-Star Game.

Well, shock of shocks, Sean has a change of heart. He leaps out of the room and tells a random employee to get his trunks out of the room. And just like that, Sean and his three trunks are on a boat headed away from the cruise ship. Boy, that was fast. Somebody give Gopher a raise!

Sean scrambles out of the boat onto land, and finds Madonna about to board a taxi. He screams out, “Tatlock!”, and the two fight against a sea of pedestrians to get to each other.

She asks why he stayed, and he says it’s because he “never got [her] first name.” And with that, my jaw drops to the ground. This is the exact same ending as Gigli. And you will be simply stunned to learn that Miss Tatlock’s first name… is Gloria.

She stares at him with some sort of watery substance trailing down her cheek. He offers forth the intensely romantic, “Come here, Gloria Tatlock.” And then they have the tender kiss featured on the movie’s poster.

Caption contributed by Albert and Mark

“Dammit, I was promised love! Exciting and new! And you’re going to give it to me!”

Cut to a shirtless Faraday. He emerges onto the cruise ship’s deck screaming for somebody to stop the boat. He then looks over at the docks, and sees Sean’s trunks being loaded onto a truck. This prompts him to yell his damn fool head off. Madonna and Sean see this psychotic display from across the water, and wonder what’s got his pecker in a vise. Not literally, of course.

Just then, somebody accidentally drops one of Sean’s trunks. Sean comes over to clean up the mess, and naturally, beneath all of his ties, are the Faraday’s Flowers that we saw in the opening scenes, the big clumps of opium wrapped in purple paper. Gosh, who could have seen this ending coming? Sean covers up his booty and chuckles to himself.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Wow! A whole trunk full of mutant-size Smurfberry Crunch cereal! Jackpot!”

He then grabs Madonna’s arm, and makes her wave goodbye to Faraday, and he’s ecstatic and screaming and hugging her aaaaand…. freeze frame. Cue closing credits. There wasn’t a Shanghai Surprise 2, so I guess it’s safe to assume that Sean and Madonna and their little baby opium clumps lived happily ever after.

This movie clearly constitutes a stern warning to real-life Hollywood couples: Never, ever appear on film together. It just doesn’t work. Whatever passion you feel for your stud monkey back at your cliffside bungalow, it just won’t show up on screen. It can’t be filmed. Hollywood love is like a vampire: You can’t photograph it, no one believes it really exists, and it sucks the life right out of you (especially if you happen to be a frequent reader of Us Weekly).

Caption contributed by Albert

A love to last for an eternity. (Disclaimer: In Hollywood, four years may legally be considered an eternity.)

Unfortunately, this didn’t stop Sean Penn from trying again with second wife Robin Wright Penn in the poorly-received She’s So Lovely. Nor did it stop Madonna from trying again with second hubby Guy Ritchie on the disastrous Swept Away. You’d think if there were any two people in the world who would have learned a lesson about not making a movie with your significant other, it would have been Sean and Madonna. If they didn’t get it, there’s no hope for anybody. I fully expect the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes romantic comedy heist caper flick to come out within the new three years.

The added bonus of Shanghai Surprise is that it’s Exhibit A in the indictment against Madonna for practicing acting without a talent. She very briefly had audiences on her side after Desperately Seeking Susan, and then this.. thing came out, and no one’s taken her seriously as an actress ever since.

And with good reason. Not only is she completely unable to simulate emotions called for in connection to her character in Shanghai Surprise, she even finds herself incapable of communicating on camera emotions she’s actually feeling toward the man she loves. It’s like Mei Gan got the porcelain hands, and Madonna got the porcelain brain.

Multi-Part Article: Shanghai Surprise (1986)

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