Ken Watanabe plays Capt. Tanaka in "Shanghai."
Ken Watanabe plays Capt. Tanaka in “Shanghai.”

“Shanghai,” a neo-noir film written by Hossein Amini and directed by Mikael Håfström, features Japanese actors Ken Watanabe and Rinko Kikuchi.

Released in China in 2010 but not released in the U.S. until last week due to legal issues, “Shanghai” takes place in 1941 just before America’s entry into World War II. John Cusack plays Paul Soames, a naval intelligence officer trying to solve the murder of his friend Conner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Paul meets Anthony Lan-Ting (Chow Yun-Fat), an influential crime lord, and Capt. Tanaka (Watanabe) at the German Embassy in Shanghai.

Paul saves Anthony during an attack on Japanese officers by the Chinese resistance and learns that Anthony’s wife, Anna (Gong Li), organized the attack and is the leader of the resistance. Through a contact at the Japanese Consulate, Paul learns that Conner had an affair with a Japanese woman, Sumiko (Kikuchi), who is missing. He searches her place, finds photos of Tanaka and other Japanese officers, and becomes determined to find Sumiko and get the answers he seeks.

An established movie and TV star in Japan, Watanabe became internationally known through such films as “The Last Samurai” (for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actor), “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Batman Begins,” “Inception,” “Godzilla,” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” His recent Japanese movies include “Yurusarezaru Mono,” a remake of Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven.” He also starred in the Broadway revival of “The King and I,” for which he received a Tony nomination for best lead actor in a musical.

Kikuchi, who made her film debut in 1999 in Kaneto Shindo’s “Will to Live,” received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her supporting role in “Babel.” While continuing her film career in Japan, she has appeared in such international films as “The Brothers Bloom,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Pacific Rim,” “47 Ronin,” and “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter.”

After its theatrical run, “Shanghai,” a Weinstein Company release, will go to Amazon platforms.

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