Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
"Tai-Pan" is the embodiment of those old movie posters where the title is hewn from solid rock and tiny figures scale it with cannons strapped to their backs, while the bosoms of their women heave in the foreground. It tells the saga of men who were larger than life, except for their brains, and of the women who loved them, lost them, left them, returned to them, double-crossed them, bore their children, oppressed their servants, and still found time to rend their hearts and their underwear.
The China Coast, 1842. The Chinese object, not unreasonably, to the British practice of buying opium from the Chinese and then selling it back to them for their silver. British warships are sent to pound the Chinese mainland, and then a treaty is signed giving England the right to operate Hong Kong as a free port.
But who will control Hong Kong? Will it be Dirk Struan, the lusty buccaneer, or Tyler Brock, the sniveling cheat? Both are extraordinary men. For one thing, they do not age visibly during the several decades of their rivalry. The movie is a little cagey about its exact time span, but try to figure this out: Struan has two grown sons near the beginning of the story, and so he must be at least 40 or even 45 when the auction is held to sell the land on which Hong Kong will be built.
And yet he is still fit enough to fight a duel in the midst of a raging hurricane after principal construction has been finished on the original city. The women also hold up remarkably well - better than the buildings, which fall down around everybody's ears in the stirring climax.