lørdag 16. november 2013

The Last Tycoon (Wong)

Netflix premiere: November 16th - 2013
Play in Netflix

Jing Wong attempts a pretty epic story here, according to wikipedia the script is "loosely inspired by the life of Du Yuesheng, a prominent triad boss in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s". Even if only "loosely based", I venture to claim that this Du Yuesheng must have led a fairly adventurous life.

In the movie, he is called Cheng Daqi. We first meet him as a young man working a fruit stand, wowing Ye Zhiqiu - a beautiful young lady of the town . He is ambitious and goes to Shanghai to try the big time. Shanghai in the thirties seems like a bustling, wild place. Rebels, spies and a sizable underworld replete with gambling and turf wars.On the outside there is Japan aggressively knocking on the door, looking to invade.

Cheng Daqi rises to become a powerful Triad boss working for Hong Shouting, a police chief slash Triad boss. Eventually his power exceeds that of Shouting, but his empire needs constant looking after - between the Japanese aggressors and the secret service, there is plenty for Cheng Daqi to attend to. 

This movie moves along at a nice pace, with plenty of action scenes and highly produced sequences from the aerial assault on Shanghai (1937). Asian action movie fight scenes always appear almost overly choreographed to me, and The Last Tycoon is no exception. But in fairness, they're just being true to the genre, and the action sequences are also breathtaking in a way - although to my taste, it's a little romanticizing of violence.

The long time span gives the movie an epic quality and there's a lot of payoff in storylines that really have the time to build up and engage us. It's an interesting window into Shanghai's underworld and the historical relationship between Japan and China, and the internal strifes of China. The Last Tycoon really runs the gamut with high romance, war, gangs and crime bosses. They're trying to do Gangs of New york meets The Godfather, and the result is entertaining although those aren't valid comparisons (but again, how many movies can you say that about?).

The Last Tycoon is nicely shot with a lot of neat directing, a rich palette of colours and beautiful interiors. The suave nostalgia of the 30's scenes comes off nicely. Cheng Daqi is played by Chow Yun-fat who is a superstar of the genre in the Asian world.

IMDB's: Jing Wong, Cow Yun-fat, The Last Tycoon

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