Tai-Pan is Chinese for "supreme leader". This is the man with real power to his hands. And such a Tai-Pan is Dirk Struan who is obsessed by his plan to make Hong Kong the "jewel in the ... See full summary »
Tai-Pan is Chinese for "supreme leader". This is the man with real power to his hands. And such a Tai-Pan is Dirk Struan who is obsessed by his plan to make Hong Kong the "jewel in the crown of her British Majesty". In 1841 he achieves his goal but he has many enemies who try to destroy his plans. Will they succeed? Written by
Harald Mayr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film was originally announced by MGM in 1967-8 and was to be directed by Michael Anderson, but after severe operating losses the film was one of a number of expensive projects the new management at the studio dropped as too costly. In the 70s Steve McQueen agreed to play the lead for a then-record $10m and was paid an advance of $1m. When the producers were unable to pay the second installment on time, he dropped out, keeping the $1m he had already been paid. In 1980 Roger Moore agreed to play the lead, even going as far as to start to grow a beard for the part before that version fell through as well. See more »
In a scene, set in 1841, several of the ladies were wearing bright mauve outfits. That would have been most unlikely for the wives of middle class traders at that time as the color purple was prohibitively expensive before the invention of analine dyes in London - in 1856. By 1870 these gaudy colors had become so cheap and commonplace that it became a status symbol to mimic the subtler, paler colors of the pre analine dye days. See more »
Tai-Pan was probably too ambitious an undertaking for a film as short as just over 2 hours. Maybe a mini-series would have been the answer, but Tai-Pan certainly had the potential to be an oriental Gone With The Wind.
Unrealized potential though it is. The screenplay made many references to previous events in the novel that are not shown here. We do know there's one nasty rivalry going on between Bryan Brown and John Stanton who both rose to wealth in the China trade like the protagonists in an Edna Ferber novel.
Bryan Brown is the Far East version of Rhett Butler. He's built the family fortune on legal trade and illegal trade in opium. Not that opium was unknown before the British and other European powers got there, but they did turn it into a thriving business. When the Chinese government objected, the European powers took nibbles out of a prostrate and weakened state.
One of those nibbles the British took was Hong Kong, spoils from the Opium War of 1841. Brown like Margaret Mitchell's Rhett Butler or the hero of many Edna Ferber books is the guy who builds what became one of the busiest trading centers on the globe.
Unlike his rival Stanton, Brown's wife left him and took their small son back to the United Kingdom. Brown didn't mourn he took up with some Chinese women, they were pawns in various business negotiations. He got a son, Russell Wong, from one of them.
Things get interesting when his other son arrives from Great Britain played by Tim Guinee. He's a rather uptight Victorian youth who is not pleased with the debauchery he finds and his father's part in it.
Tai-Pan is exquisitely photographed with the climatic typhoon scene very well done indeed. A better screenplay would have been needed to tell this epic story.
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