In Miraculous World: Shanghai, the second installment in the award-winning World Franchise series, an international agent is summoned to a mysterious Chinese city as his most dangerous mission yet. With the help of an aging Chinese magician and a team of sexy Chinese agents, he must protect the world from an insidious plot, fight for the fate of China and uncover a dark secret in the midst of a high-stakes game played by greedy insiders. Director Michael Bay again returns to the world of mega-movies with this release and it goes out of its way to be better than its predecessors, though some of the story elements are a bit redundant. However, the movie's biggest achievement may just be in its visual effects, which are breathtakingly realistic and incredibly vivid. Some of the scenes may even leave you in awe.
Once again we have an all-star cast headed by Keanu Reeves. The man who played Neo in the Matrix films has once again teamed up with Hollywood in what is bound to be one of the biggest hits of the year. The previous films in the series also succeeded in capturing the magic of Chinese culture, but this time around the director opts for a grittier, less comical tone, focusing more on the intricate details of the plot. The movie, however, is not without its brightly colored costumes and oddball characters. There is still some oddball, but at times, it can get a little boring.
Although there is more of a storyline here, the real strength of the movie comes from its use of practical effects, particularly in the fighting sequences. There is a lot of close range shooting and you can tell that the martial arts and Chinese martial arts expertise that are shown are authentic. The fights themselves are brutal, especially compared to the ones in the previous Miraculous World: Kung Fu movie, but the choreographer is just as good at creating strange and elaborate sequences as he is at capturing the action. There is a lot happening on screen at once and when it comes to an action film this is one of the best kinds you will see. It's also one of the most expensive movies of this year to boot.
One of the best elements of the movie is its amazing chase scenes. I particularly like how they incorporate the element of technology into the fight scenes between Shang and Lung. It seems that Shang Lung is always trying to come up with new ways to defeat Lung, but every time he does it, Lung gets a little better. The sequences that show Lung flying through the city and battling against the police are particularly thrilling. You also have some great chase sequences where Shang lung is chasing after an airplane with the caption, "What will they think... ? ".
If you don't have internet access in your area, you will probably want to watch the movie via online community. There are quite a few movie download sites online where you can download the movie for free! Some of these sites include Yahoo Video, MetaCafe, and The Movie Site.
Overall, I give the movie a thumbs up for being fun and entertaining. I'm a big fan of martial arts movies, and this one definitely qualifies as one of them. If you have never been exposed to the Chinese culture, I highly recommend it! And if you have been, you will definitely want to see the next movie, Miraculous World: Shanghai!