LowComDom Performances Presents
Film Review - Tai-Pan
I've always been a sucker for this movie. It's a period piece set in a foreign land. It's also about men of vision, and men with a lack of vision.
This is the beginning of James Clavell's long line of Noble House stories. Tai-Pan is about how Noble House, a trading company, influenced Britain to take Hong Kong from the Chinese to ensure the trading of opium for tea.
The British are viewed as we would consider a person smuggling cocaine into our country. Opium is illegal, the British trade with it to prevent England from being bankrupt in the tea trade. This sounds immoral, but Tai-Pan presents this as the fact that it is. The man who is Tai-Pan did not invent the opium trade, and he's not going to destroy the business -- to him and the other traders, that's all it is: business. The same argument is presented by drug traders of our age, and like the drug dealers today, the traders of opium are rich and live like kings.
Tai-Pan is also about many other parts of the Hong Kong culture of that era. The traders are men who make their own rules. Noble House has its enemies who would do the most unspeakable acts to bankrupt the company. It's not business; it's personal. Tai-Pan is about empire building -- companies building trading empires and Britain building its own empire. In the middle are politics, disasters, love, rivalry between father and son, and destinies to be fulfilled.