While the crime drama doesn’t seem to be as popular here in the US the Asian film market continues to churn them out and usually with great results. The latest The Last Tycoon features the always awesome Chow Yun Fat in the lead and stepping out of the martial arts epics and back into the gun toting action alongside martial arts icon Sammo Hung, but does it sport the story and execution that they usually deliver?
The Last Tycoon follows a young man in the early 1900s who must leave the life he knows after being set up by the chief of police. After escaping prison he quickly moves up the ladder to become one of the most mob bosses in Shanghai’s history, but when he is stuck in between the coming Japanese army, scheming local secret service, and the return of a long lost love he risks losing everything. This might be a bit of a stretch but this film feels a bit like The Godfather in not only story but in overall scope and execution as well. Most of this is the pure charisma and awesomeness of Chow Yun Fat, but really only leads for about half the film since it bounces between him and a younger version of himself to tell the story. In addition Sammo Hung who is most notably known for his many amazing martial arts films shines in this non-martial arts role alongside Fat to create memorable characters that make this film work. Despite this film being allowing the story and character development to run this movie they still work in plenty of great action. This is far from an action movie, but seeing Chow Yun Fat in all his classic gun toting action again makes this entire movie worth it. Don’t expect the Hard Boiled action we all love, but there is a pretty cool church shoot out scene and a few others that show he still has it.
This is a great addition to a lost genre that showcases come beautiful visuals that bring this time period to life as well as a classic story showcasing this characters rise to power. The film moves forward at a pretty rapid pace and is well structured to tell the story while spanning a wide time period and never feels rushed. If you like movies like The Godfather or just Sammo Hung or Chow Yun Fat then give The Last Tycoon a shot, it’s one of the best of the genre and of these two action icons to come along in a while.