1930's Shanghai. Gloria Tatlock (Madonna) is a nurse looking for a stash of opium to administer to her patients. Glendon Wasey (Sean Penn) is a crook looking for the fastest way out of China. Together they cook up a smuggling scheme, but it attracts the unwanted attention of... just about everybody.
To watch this dose of dire ’80s kitsch, most right-minded film fans would need to be shanghaied... and then nailed to their seat. A hopelessly inane romantic comedy set in 1937, the film sees a fresh-faced Madonna play nurse Gloria Tatlock, who is desperately seeking a stash of opium, which she can then help administer to her patients.
She is aided in her quest by real-life husband Sean Penn, who conjures a forgettable role playing frivolous fortune hunter Glendon, as director Jim Goddard reworks a formula that is lifted straight from the classic Saturday morning serials which inspired Indiana Jones and Romancing The Stone (although this barely deserves mention in the same breath). Shanghai Surprise sadly - but, ironically, not surprisingly - marked the beginning of the end for Briotish production house Handmade Films.
Really, really bad. Production company-destroyingly bad.