Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 4th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: China, 2012
Director: Jing Wong
Writers: Koon-nam Lui, Jing Wong, Manfred Wong
Cast: Yun-Fat Chow, Xiaoming Huang, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Francis Ng, Quan Yuan, Li Yuan, Monica Mok
BluRay released: September 17th, 2013
Approximate running time: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
The Last Tycoon was co-written and directed by Jing Wong the creative mind behind such notable films like Naked Killer, City Hunter and Royal Tramp 1 & 2. Key collaborators on The Last Tycoon include cinematographer Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) and composer Kwong Wing Chan (The Twins Effect, Three …. Extremes).
The Last Tycoon can be best summed as a gangster film that takes place in Shanghai during the first quarter of the 20th century.
The plot primarily center’s around a character named Cheng Daiqi who is superbly portrayed Chow Yun Fat. He portrays the older version of the character. He is confident, suave and cold blooded when the situation calls for it. This characters destiny’s is forever changed when he meets a criminal underworld boss named Hong Shou Ting who becomes impressed with Cheng Daiqi unique way of resolving situations. This leads to Hong Shou Ting making Cheng Daiqi his apprentice and in many ways his successor. Along the way the Japanese invade Shanghai, which presents new problems like the Japanese trying to control their turf and Chinese traitors selling out their countrymen to advance their own prosperity under the Japanese regime.
The Last Tycoon is cut from same mold like the countless other period drama’s that have become the bread and butter of modern Chinese cinema. The first rate visuals like the bright lights of pre invasion Japan are fest for the eyes, while the desolate landscape which follows the Japanese invasion is equally impressive as it does a great job reinforcing the tone of the film. From a visual stand point in there was any area that does not come off completely unscathed that would be the special effects. Which for the most part look very good, it is just that a few of the special effects do draw attention to themselves.
Other areas of the production that often excel include the action set pieces and the film’s even handed pacing gives moments just enough time to reach their maximum impact. This film’s most memorable moment involves a shoot out at church that appears to be a homage to a similar sequence from the film The Killer.
Performance wise the entire cast is exceptional in their respective roles, especially the aforementioned Chow Yun Fat (The Killer) in the role of Cheng Daiqi. The scenes in which his character interacts with Hong Shou Ting, who is pitch perfectly portrayed by Sammo Hung (The Magnificent Butcher) are easily the most entertaining and leave the strongest lasting impression. Another performance of note is Monika Mok in the role of Bao, Cheng Daiqi Main love interest.
And though it is not quite there, in a roundabout way one could say that The Last Tycoon is a modern extension of the Heroic Bloodshed genre that made Chow Yun Fat an international star. Ultimately The Last Tycoon is an exceptional melodrama that reminds us of a time when Hong Kong cinema took the world by storm.
The Last Tycoon comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. The transfer look great throughout as details are always crisp, the transfer also does a superb job retaining this films intended look and there are issues with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin. Both audio mixes sounds excellent. With the obvious nod going to the DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin. The range is always dynamic, ambient noises are well represented, the score sounds appropriately full and action sequences engulf the viewer. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
This ‘Making of ‘segment is essentially a collection of onset footage with comments about cast & crew about the film and what it was like to work with each other. Rounding out the extras are trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA.
Overall The Last Tycoon gets a solid audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.