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Tai-Pan (1986)

Historical fiction set against the backdrop of Hong Kong in its early years of British rule.


Daryl Duke


John Briley (screenplay), James Clavell (novel) | 1 more credit »
2 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Bryan Brown ... Dirk Struan
Joan Chen ... May-May
John Stanton ... Tyler Brock
Tim Guinee ... Culum Struan
Bill Leadbitter Bill Leadbitter ... Gorth Brock
Russell Wong ... Gordon Chen
Katy Behean Katy Behean ... Mary Sinclair
Kyra Sedgwick ... Tess Brock
Janine Turner ... Shevaun Tillman
Norman Rodway ... Aristotle Quance
John Bennett ... Orlov
Derrick Branche ... Vargas
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Vic Armstrong ... Drunken Sailor
Dickey Beer ... Brecks's Crew
Edowan Bersmea Edowan Bersmea


Tai-Pan's hinese for supreme leader ; the man with real power.. Such a Tai-Pan's Dirk Struan who's obsessed to make Hong Kong the jewel in the crown of her British Majesty. In 1841 he achieves the goal, but has many enemies who try to destroy his dream. Written by Harald Mayr <marvin@bike.augusta.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Smuggler. Prince. Murderer. Father. Sinner. Saint. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In the late-1970s, Georges-Alain Vuille acquired the rights to the James Clavell source novel with director Richard Fleischer attached to direct and George MacDonald Fraser hired to write the screenplay. After the film script was approved, Fraser was then asked to also pen a sequel. Star Steve McQueen agreed to play the lead for a then-record US $10 million and was paid an advance of US $1 million. When the producers were unable to pay the second installment on time, McQueen dropped out of the film, keeping the US $1 million he had already been paid. 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 »


Dirk Struan: No emperor has seen the guns of a British man-of-war.
See more »


Music by Adrien Talexy
Arranged by Trevor L. Sharpe
See more »

User Reviews

It could have been so much more...
16 April 2000 | by BishoptrueSee all my reviews

As another reviewer put it, this movie was very similar to Dune. Very interesting comparison, since Raffaella De Laurentiis produced them both. This was her first project right after Dune. Both were sweeping epic sagas with multiple intertwined plotlines. Both should have been six or eight hour mini series and not feature films. As with Dune, you will find that if you have not read the book, you will not understand the movie. However, if you have read the book, then the movie isn't all that bad. James Clavell's 'Asian Saga' is one of my favorite book series, so I bought this movie cheap just to see it. The characters are like old friends to me, so I didn't think that the movie was all that bad. I realized while watching it though, that someone who had not read the book would not be able to keep up with all of the plot points. My suggestion to you is to read the book, then watch the movie. You will discover two things; first it's a super good book. Second, this movie had everything going for it in cast and settings; it just had too much story to tell in too short a time. It definitely should have been a six-hour miniseries.

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Release Date:

7 November 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

James Clavell's Tai-Pan See more »

Filming Locations:

China See more »


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,863,469, 9 November 1986

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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