This is a story of an end of an era. Change had been coming for Hong Kong ever since the British had sailed to its shores those hundreds of years ago. The egg people who had been as prominent as the fish they went after were coming ashore. They were leaving the work their families had probably been doing going back a millennium.
The movie opens with a young girl having a miscarriage while out on her boat in a storm. Rather than just try for another child she bought one, a mixed breed with red hair. She raised this child as if he was her own. His father no one knew and the young woman's husband did raise him as his own but you knew that there was always something standing in the way. As the child would grow he would have to endure the ridicule of his family and friends. His cousin who he cared for would say all the wrong words that she heard from her mother. One day her family left to go out to sea they never made it back. The half breed would feel the loss strongly.
As time would go by the half breed and his family would listen to the missionary and become Christians. The priest would talk the family into letting the mixed breed come and get educated. The half breed couldn't stand the regular school and the parents of the other kids didn't want him around.
The mixed breed would make it away from the boat, would learn, and would break his families heart because he would not be there for them on the boat. The father would try and make peace before he died and in a way it was understood with the half breed that he was a man, and good luck.
Mother would almost lose the boat as she was not able to read and didn't have a Captains License. The half breed would help his mom to learn some but it would take years for her to pass the test. One day the half breed would try to get hired by the Imperial East India Company at whatever job he could find. He made it through the gate but he was still considered a half breed and was still put down by British bosses as such.
One day he would answer back to his immediate boss his name but his boss would ask what is your name and he still answered mixed breed. A new Tai Pan arrived at the company and took a liking to the half breed. A Tai Pan is like the CEO of the company.
The Tai Pan asked the mixed breed his name and he finally answered Bo Wah Chuen (Aaron Kwok).
To understand this movie you must know the period and the place. Hong Kong in the 1940's and later was changing. The mainland was being overrun by the Communist. The British were losing all their Colonies and the ways of the past were going by the wayside. Mother would at one time have to sell her children to be able to live. She would have to put some in orphanages but in the end it was the way of the past. It hurt but it was accepted. Bo would see all this change and he would do the best he could. The one thing he wouldn't lose is the love for family and harmony. This movie was Directed by Yim Ho and you really have to give him a hand for showing the passing of the torch so to speak of Hong Kong from being a Colony to a governing body under Chinese rule. He shows how the egg people would leave the water to go to the land. It is a beautiful, touching tribute to a people who overcame so much to become the rulers of their own destiny. Who learned how to fight disrespect with their heads held high. Who told the world I am a human being. To tell his boss, I am not a mixed breed but I am Bo Wah Chuen.