- 2 hr 7 min
In the late 18th century, the powerful British trading company, The Noble House is vying for control over the lucrative and ever-growing opium trade with China. Set amidst this political and economic turmoil is the epic adventure movie Tai-Pan, which follows the story of Dirk Struan (Bryan Brown), a daring and ambitious Scottish merchant who aims to become the Tai-Pan or the supreme leader, of the company.
Struan's path to Tai-Pan, however, is not an easy one. He has to compete with his arch-rival Tyler Brock (John Stanton) for the coveted position, and also navigate his complicated relationship with a beautiful Chinese courtesan May-May (Joan Chen), who he falls in love with. May-May, who is initially smitten by Struan's power and wealth, soon realizes that he is also capable of great cruelty and destruction, and must make a choice between her loyalty to Struan and her own conscience.
The story unfolds against the backdrop of the Chinese culture, which is exotic and mysterious, filled with ancient customs and practices that Struan and his fellow British merchants find hard to understand. One of the key themes of the movie is the clash of civilizations between the Chinese and Western cultures, which is explored through the interactions of the characters and their attempts to adapt and adjust to each other's ways.
The movie is also notable for its attention to detail and historical accuracy, which is not surprising considering that it is based on the novel of the same name by James Clavell. The period costumes, sets, and props are all top-notch, and the performances by the lead actors are powerful and engaging. Brown, in particular, shines in his role as the ambitious and cunning Struan, who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
Director Daryl Duke masterfully captures the chaotic and volatile atmosphere of Hong Kong during this time, and the scenes of bustling street markets, extravagant parties, and brutal street fights are all brilliantly executed. The action sequences are superbly choreographed, and the climactic battle scene is a tour de force of filmmaking.
Overall, Tai-Pan is an epic adventure movie that is both entertaining and informative. It is a masterful representation of the historical period, and the complex characters and themes keep the story moving forward at a brisk pace. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of British imperialism in Asia, or anyone looking for a thrilling and engrossing movie experience.