|Index||4 reviews in total|
"Even if your battalion can take Shanghai in one day, they will never ever find you again." In the 1930's Shanghai was full of ruthless gangsters. Working his way to the top of the criminal underworld Cheng(Yon-Fat) he thinks he is untouchable. When he finds himself stuck in the middle of the invading Japanese army and the secret service he realizes he has more enemies then he thought and is left on his own. I was looking forward to this movie quite a bit. While I am not a huge foreign movie fan I am a big fan of the gangster genre. This movie was a little slow moving but still worth seeing. Being a foreign movie 80% of people will not watch so this won't be a long one but the best way to convince people to see it is to go generic. This movie is a mix of a war movie and The Godfather as directed by Quentin Tarantino. If that won't help you then I don't know what else to say. Overall, little slow but worth watching. I did like it. I say B-.
Cheng Daqi (played as a young man by Huang Xiaoming and as an older man by the legendary Chow Yun-Fat) is a village boy in 1913 China who loves Ye Zhiqiu (Feng Wenjuan), an aspiring opera performer. A blunder on Daqi's part lands him on death row, where he is taken under the wing of Mao Zai (Francis Ng), who subsequently brings him to Shanghai, where Daqi signs up with Hong Shouting (Sammo Hung), the town's leading gangster. Fast forward 24 years and it's 1937, and Daqi is himself a renowned gangster, blood brother of Hong; he is married to the lovely Bao (Monika Mok), but when Zhiqiu comes to town with her husband, the old sparks begin to fly again. But this is 1937, and the Japanese Imperial Army has designs on Shanghai, and all of China.... Well. The above synopsis only covers a part of the very complicated story of "The Last Tycoon," and I wasn't always certain about who was who and what was going on; that said, it's a wild and action-packed ride knife fights (with umbrellas), gun fights, fighter jets dropping bombs, things blowing up real good, all pushed up to 11. Getting to see Chow Yun-Fat get back to his filmic roots, all guns blazing and tenderness toward the women in his life, is a real treat, and of course, the anti-heroic, good bad guy is a wonderful role for him. I'm not sure that I understood everything that went on, but I enjoyed it to bits!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
<<< Spoilers ahead, please don't read if you intend to watch the movie
without any prior knowledge of the plot>>>
I had the good fortune to watch this in Australia in an actual cinema, a treat for a country that rarely screens Asian movies. It was a particularly worthwhile experience as the movie was thoroughly enjoyable.
The screenplay is well written, using a classic hero's journey plot contained within a "rags to riches" story of our protagonist, Cheng Daiqi (Chow Yun Fat). Viewers of western films may recognise some similarities to seminal gangster movies like Scarface and Godfather. Interspersed through this main plot line, the film's writers (Jing Wong, Manfred & Philip Lui) skillfully weave related Shakespearean subplots of power, romance, lust, betrayal, family, loyalty and patriotism. The plot travels at a comfortable pace and is made more interesting by a clever story telling method that jumps the audience through non-linear time periods during the first part of the movie to paint a beautiful back story for the film's finale.
The casting director should be recognised on his/her own accord for assembling a cast that could deliver on the story. It is a little unfair to single out any specific actors given the aggregate stellar performance, but if pushed, Chow Yun Fat (Cheng Daiqi) and Huang Xiaoming (young Cheng Daiqi) are near faultless in their respective performances. Chow Yun Fat once again demonstrates his acting prowess, moving into that rare stratosphere of actors whom directors can point a camera at, and with just a close-up facial shot and no spoken lines, let the actor's eyes emotionally engage the audience. Perhaps as an indirect homage to Chow Yun Fat's good looks in his younger days, a rather handsome actor plays young Cheng Daiqi. Huang Xiaoming is great in this role, especially in the latter parts of Daiqi's rise in status, exuding a quiet confidence and poise that explain Daiqi's actions in the later parts of the movie. No commentary on the actors in the movie can be concluded without a mention of the women cast in this film, i.e. Daiqi's and Shouting's wives and lovers. Their beauty almost jumps off the screen, and is present in both their young and older guises. The respective wives of the two gangster brothers played their loyal roles beautifully to reveal a touch of vulnerability and humanity in their underworld husbands, hinting at the juxtaposition of power in these families.
The film was shot beautifully and is accompanied by beautiful songs in its soundtrack. No small amount of attention went into the costumes as the cast were dressed in fantastic period pieces to match the movie's early 20th century setting. Although not quite matching the grandeur and realism of war scenes shot in Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, great care was evident in simulating the chaos of Shanghai's aerial bombing.
This film is well worth watching and is a showcase for Jing Wong's movie directing and Chow Yun Fat's abilities as a thespian. It serves as further evidence of Asian cinema to deliver on movies that arouse our intellectual and visual senses.
The idea of the GOD OF GAMBLERS team of star Chow yun-fat and director
Wong Jing back in business, with a decent budget and a promising
subject is richly appealing. Throw in the great Sammo Hung and I'm
there clutching my sixteen dollars.
It takes a while to realise that what we are getting is just a shadow of the Hong Kong films pre-take over. The murky colour scheme and lack of shadow detail of main land processing is the first clue.
There's elaborate staging and lots of action, some of it quite vigorous and it's always nice to see Chow's character blowing away the support cast - including a shoot 'em up Catholic priest. However the plot winds down into feeble scissors and paste of better films - CASABLANCA, THE GREAT MAGICIAN, BONNIE & CLYDE - where you can see the derivations well before they arrive - like the protracted build-up with the opera spear tossing in the climax.
Sammo is wasted even with the presence he brings to his Triad boss role.
|External reviews||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|