Tai-Pan is based on James Clavell's novel. It is a saga of 19th century Hong Kong and a noble hero (Bryan Brown), a dastardly villain (John Stanton) and a woman, of course
Recommended for James Cavell's fans (but the book TaiPan is better IMHO) and fans of early Hong Kong.
Gunner February, 2008 "
The birth of Hong Kong
Roger J. Buffington | Huntington Beach, CA United States | 03/21/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a greatly condensed telling of Clavell's novel Tai Pan. As such, it necessarily leaves out a great deal of the detail and many of the sub-plots contained in the excellent novel. This was unavoidable because the novel is intricate and complex. I am not sure that even a mini-series would have successfully encompassed the scope of the novel.
With that caveat, I enjoyed this film a lot more than I thought I would. The acting is generally quite good, and the story, while truncated, is coherent and interesting. This is the story of the birth of Hong Kong as an improbable British colony and outpost on Chinese soil. It is further the story of the rivalry between two great British trading houses: Noble House, and Brock & Sons. The latter conflict, which is more or less a bitter clan feud between two Scottish families, is well-told and interesting, and not too far off-track from the story told in the novel.
Within its necessary limitations, I thought that this was a pretty good film, well worth watching."
Not bad at all despite compressed plot
Joanna | Singapore | 05/08/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Admittedly, this is much less of a movie than Tai-Pan is of a book. But the book is a giant among books, and the show is still a good show. Those who have read the book, rather than savaging it for its divergence from the book (which, in any case, would require a mini-series to do its layering and complexity justice, not a 2-hour show) should treat it as a kind of visual accompaniment to the story - good casting, good handling of some powerful scenes. Alright, they were much more powerful in the book, but it's not all the time that readers of a splendid book get the opportunity to see a capable visual incarnation that does justice to the characters, at least, if not to the plot. Maybe if the show had been titled "Selected Scenes from Tai-Pan" rather than "Tai-Pan" it would have been better received by purists. What I'm trying to say is it did treat the subject material well, although obviously it couldn't pack everything which makes us love the book into just two hours. In an adaptation of a book, when you can recognise each character instantly before the character's name is mentioned it's always a good sign - where there's good casting, it's a sign that it's a sensitive adaptation, and this was the case with Tai-Pan. I thought Bryan Brown was very good as Dirk Struan; I'm not Scottish, so I couldn't tell that his accent was as fake as many others seem to think it. I can see how those who haven't read the book would find it laughable, though, because due to the compression of the plot you don't really get to know the characters and understand their motivations from scratch. Some of Clavell's magnificent dialogue from the book might sound weird in the show, or lacking in punch, for those without a prior acquaintance of the book, because of this lack of emotional set-up. That's why I think it's best for those who have read the book, who already know the characters and can watch them fully-fledged, so to speak, as the show doesn't spend time introducing the audience to the characters. Perhaps the reason that fans of James Clavell's books are so vociferous in their criticism of this show, sometimes, is because they are acclimatised to splendid, detailed and heartfelt adaptations of so many of his other books - the Shogun mini-series, the Noble House mini-series and the King Rat film. Why, Clavell fans are really so fortunate already when it comes to screen adaptations! :) If we lowered our expectations a little, we'd see that Tai-Pan, too, is not that bad a treatment of the book at all!"
Excellent condensed version of Clavell's masterpiece
Gunner | 04/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For the small price, I wasn't expecting much. I was happily surprised with a wonderful cast of characters and a beautifully created screenplay which nicely captures the essence of the novel Tai-Pan. If you enjoyed the book, I recommend picking up the video. It's definitely worth watching. The acting may not be the best, but it really does do justice to the story."
Lost without having read the book
Michael Mathis | Yokohama, Japan | 08/24/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I am a big Clavell fan who never got to see the Tai-Pan movie, so I ordered the tape.To appreciate this movie at all you must have read the book because too much has been left out to preserve the 2-hour time limit for major theatrical releases. The acting is good. The casting is OK. (May-May is a babe.) However, it is just too scattered to be a coherent piece of work.Those of you who have read Shogun and then seen the full version of the mini-series and later the 2-hour version can get an idea of what Tai-Pan is like.The full version of Shogun wasn't perfect (especially because it had to be censored for TV) but was basically good. The 2-hour version of Shogun was almost impossible to follow, even after having read the book and having seen the full version of the mini-series.I do have to admit that Clavell fans will be disappointed, but I still recommend that you watch it. For those of you who haven't read the book, I think you should pass."