The strong cast of actors the Man and I grew up watching was the main draw when we decided to catch the “The Last Tycoon” on the big screen. Chow Yun-fat, Sammo Hung, and Francis Ng are established actors in the Hong Kong movie industry, and the Man booked the movie tickets without hesitation. Of course, I had another shallow reason for watching the movie – Huang Xiaoming, yummy… Okay, enough of fantasies.
The story revolved around Cheng Daqi (played by Huang Xiaoming in his younger days, and Chow Yun-fat twenty over years later), a good-boy-turned-mob-leader by being at the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. The established actors did not disappoint.
I was pleasantly surprised, however, that the supporting actors protrayed their roles so convincingly that I enjoyed every moment of the show. Okay, not entirely the whole show. The bombing of Shanghai and the Japanese barracks towards the end of the show was excessively loud, long and irritating for me. The sanguinary theatrics of the marketplace gang fight featuring the younger Cheng Daqi, and the shooting of assasins in a church 2 years later were, however, highly satisfactory. Well, what do you expect from a person who spent her teenage years lapping up movies like Young and Dangerous, a series of highly popular Hong Kong movies featuring crime and triads. Blood and gore in non-supernatural and non-hideous murders/massacres always work for me.
Apart from the gang and war violence in this movie, love was also featured very strongly. Love for his master-turned-sworn-brother Sammo Hung, love triangles, and love for one’s country. All these types of love culminated in Daqi’s fate, as well as the people who loved him in return. I held up my thumbs in approval (figuratively, of course) and my eyes sparkled when daqi knelt his way across broken glass, a valiant act in a bid to save his captured master. Fisted my chest in pain at the lost opportunity when Daqi‘s young love left him again because she could not envision a life of brutality with him as a mobster. Only to rekindle passionate feelings for each other twenty years too late, when both parties were already married to others. Ugh, wasted years! What for! The love relationships had become complicated by then, and right or wrong could not be easily explained anymore. Patriotic love didn’t really strike a chord in me, but I got the idea. Although the scene whereby Chow Yun-fat, Sammo Hung, and Francis Ng were getting ready for war against Japan was absolutely electrifying – threats and insinuations abound. Especially Chow Yun-fat and Francis Ng, whose eyes alone spoke volumes of the emotions they were protraying. Classic.
The twist, for me, came at the last scene of the show. Very belatedly, after the show, I realised that Daqi was not lying to his wife when she breathed her last, sacrificing her life in order to save his. Twenty years of marriage, and going through thick and thin together meant something much stronger than young, unrequited love after all. A bitter-sweet ending.
Savouring poignant snippets of the movie and thinking of our simple, uncomplicated marriage, I counted my blessings, and curled my fingers tighter through the Man’s, relishing the heat and strength of our interlinked fingers. I smiled inwardly at my silliness, comparing our real lives to that of the reel’s, as we strolled down the street a while more, before going back to reality, to the kids…