Ian Struan Dunross is chairman of Struan & Company, the oldest and largest of the British-East Asia trading companies. To the Chinese, that also makes him "Tai-Pan" ("supreme leader") of ...
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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 »
An Irish tough-guy debt collector is asked by his local community to help rid the town of developers bent on building a chemical plant on the outskirts of town. The developers are ruthless ... See full summary »
Ian Struan Dunross is chairman of Struan & Company, the oldest and largest of the British-East Asia trading companies. To the Chinese, that also makes him "Tai-Pan" ("supreme leader") of the "Noble House". Unfortunately, with his power, he inherits ancient promises, dark secrets, and deep financial problems on a small island full of people, who want to see Struan fall, so they can become the Noble House. Dunross' worst enemy is the vicious Quillan Gornt, a lesser tai-pan, and he's doing everything in his power to bring the Noble House to ruin. Drawn into the fight between Gornt and Dunross, is an upstart American billionaire, who tries to gain a foothold on the Hong Kong market, and has made a deal to steal something that will give him power, even over the Noble House. Unfortunately, that something has fallen into the hands of a powerful Chinese overlord. "Everybody was watching (and cheating on) everybody." Who will succeed in the end? Written by
Harald Mayr <email@example.com> and Phoenix Roberts
Struans was founded in 1841, and celebrates its one hundred fiftieth anniversary, meaning it takes place in 1991. Since the miniseries was broadcast in 1988, that makes it a "future history" story, and, by the strict definition, qualifies it as a science fiction film. See more »
[reading from the legacy of company founder, Dirk Struan, in the family Bible]
"To whomsoever gives me the other half of any of these coins, I will grant one favor."
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I still remember looking forward anxiously to seeing this miniseries when it first aired -- I had considered "Noble House" James Clavell's masterpiece, even greater than "Shogun." I had come away from reading the book with the sense of knowing the characters as if they were real people, and missing them when the book was finished.
In some cases, the characterizations in the miniseries hit the mark. Pierce Brosnan does an excellent job as the supremely self-confident Ian Dunross, John Rhys-Davies gives a truly inspired performance of charming villainy as Quillan Gornt, Burt Kwouk is very convincing as the compradore of the Noble House, and Gordon Jackson did a fine turn as the committed, conflicted Superintendent Armstrong. I also thought Julia Nickson Soul really heated up the screen; she was much better than a young Tia Carrere (in her pre-"Wayne's World" days).
Unfortunately, I thought the American performances were weak. Deborah Raffin was OK as K.C. Tcholok, but I would have preferred it if they had stuck to the story and not had her wind up romantically involved with Ian Dunross. The weakest in my opinion, though, was Ben Masters as Linc Bartlett. While Mr. Masters may be a good actor, I didn't think he carried this role off very well. In the book, Bartlett is a cool, calculating, and yet personable man who comes across as opportunistic but respectful of Hong Kong business and cultural traditions. Clavell wrote him as a friendly, likable man who moves easily into the circles of power in the Colony but who is an unknown, unpredictable quantity to all of the vying factions. I thought that Mr. Masters overplayed the part as too cocky, too brash, and too shallow to be a likable or sympathetic figure. In the novel, I thought Bartlett was an intriguing character on a par with Dunross. In the miniseries, I generally thought he was just a jerk.
That aside, while the miniseries has to trim a lot of the interesting sub-plots in the interest of time, it does a good job of remaining true to the spirit of Clavell's novel. I'd agree with the observation that you should watch the miniseries, then read the novel to see what the story was REALLY about.
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