The Last Tycoon / 大上海 / Daai6 Soeng5-hoi2 / Dà Shànghǎi (2012)
Director: Wong Jing ; Screenplay: Wong Jing, Phillip Lui, Manfred Wong
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Sammo Hung, Francis Ng, Huang Xiaoming, Monica Mok
The story mainly takes place during World War 2 with flashbacks to around 1913. We see DaQi’s rise from a poor fellow wrongly tossed into jail to a powerful, charismatic triad leader and the friends, lovers, and enemies he meets along the way. When faced with the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, even a gangster must do the honorable deed and fight back.
Despite its generic action, one-note characters and predictable story, this movie managed to be entertaining due to the actors, pacing and beautiful shots of old Shanghai. Chow Yun Fat and Huang Xiaoming play the same character, Cheng DaQi. Huang being the younger version and Chow the older version. Both are practically invincible the entire movie and manage to stand straight up and shoot everybody dead or knife everybody to death. They shrug off their bullet wounds and glass shards stuck in their knees like it’s all nothing. Action scenes use lots of cuts and different camera angles with lots of slow motion employed. It’s actually not too overdone but it does little to make the action scenes anything more than serviceable. There is also a surprising amount of romance and sentimentality, Chow/Huang have not one but two lovely ladies whom they court. and much of what they do is for them.
Decent movie overall thanks to the actors that elevate the material and the general prettiness of the of time period. Without the acting talent this would’ve likely been panned as another cookie-cutter crime movie.