The Shanghai Hotel is the story of a young woman named Yin Yin (Eugenia Yuan), who illegally buys her way to the USA from communist China hoping to make a better life for herself and her family. After a long, treacherous journey stowed away in a dark hull of an overcrowded cargo ship, Yin Yin arrives in New York City for what she thinks will be the beginning of a better life. Falsely promised a job in the technology industry, her dreams are shattered when she is told by the Snakeheads, an Asian gang, that her debt is much higher than expected. To pay off that additional debt she will have to work it off by being a prostitute. Yin Yin is devastated by the news that she is being sold into the sex slave trade. The rundown, decrepit building that Yin Yin and the other prostitutes live and work in is known as the Shanghai Hotel. Women from Thailand, Korea and China all reside in the Shanghai Hotel.
When the magic powers of The Tablet of Ahkmenrah begin to die out, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.
A thriller set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city's history, and centered on a the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.