The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Well Go USA - 2012
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 119 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): Mandarin/English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Huang Xiaoming, Sammo Hung, Francis NG, Yolanda Yuan, Yuan Li, Monica Mok, Xin Baiqing, Hugh Gao, Kurata Yasuaki, Kimmy Tong
Directed by: Wong Jing
Music by: Chan Kwong Wing & Yu Peng
Written by: Wong Jing, Manfred Wong, Lui Koon Nam
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 17, 2013
Action superstar Chow Yun-Fat portrays gangster Cheng Daqi as he rises to the upper echelons of power, finding himself torn between the love of two women, the murderous plots of the secret service, and the looming threat of war that may destroy the entire city.
Innocence and young love are shattered by circumstance, wrongful imprisonment, murder, and escape. Set in Shanghais Gangster era of the early 1900s, The Last Tycoon tells the tale of Cheng (Chow Yun-Fat), a young man who is set up by the chief of police (Sammo Hung) and must leave the life he knows and Zhiqiu, the woman he loves, to start again, escaping prison and fleeing to Shanghai. Cheng quickly and violently moves his way up the ladder of Shanghais criminal underworld to become on the most powerful mob bosses in the city’s history. But fame and notoriety take their toll when Cheng finds himself stuck between the looming Japanese army and the scheming local secret service. Matters are only made worse when he bumps into the love of his life Zhiqiu, along with her writer husband who carries secrets of his own. Will love re-kindle in the dusk of an era?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Tycoon and found its story (loosely inspired by the life of Du Yuesheng, a prominent triad boss in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s) of the rise and fall of gangster Cheng Daqi to be well rounded and entertaining. There are elements of action and the criminal underworld etc. that predominate the narrative but at its heart it’s a romance. It’s a beautifully shot film that harkens back to early 1900’s and pre World War II era China. I appreciated the development of the Cheng Daqi’s character that is played by both Chow Yun Fat (older), and Huang Xiaoming (younger). Each lends an air of charisma and credibility to the role in an almost interchangeable/seamless fashion. As with Cheng Daqi the older and younger roles of the two central female characters are handled by two actresses. Each is stunning and capable however I was particularly drawn in by Monica Mok and Yolanda Yuan who are not only beautiful but gave sterling performances in support.
The last tycoon turned out to be much better than expected as it is a multi-genre that expertly blends romantic themes with enriching elements of action/crime that revolve around well drawn characters that are easy to care about. While I generally find film’s such as this can be hit or miss I am always pleased when one comes along that I consider worthy of adding to my collection. This one easily qualifies…
This unrated film contains action violence and thematic material that would more than likely garner a PG-13 rating.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The last tycoon comes to Blu-ray Disc from Well Go USA featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
This is a reference quality Blu-ray offering from Well Go USA that looks terrific in high definition. The video is razor sharp with a slightly edgy but otherwise pristine quality that is visually pleasing. Detail rendering is nearly flawless with lucid visual acuity and fine articulation that brings forth lots of subtle detail in the images onscreen. Colors are rich and delineated with oversaturated primaries and warm tonality that make them pop nicely. The palette of secondary hues that represent the period colors featured in the story, appear vivid and warm. Flesh tones are natural with varying degrees of complexional separation among the cast. Boldly applied contrast and consistent black levels provide excellent balance during bright scenes containing mixed content. Shadow detail is strong which brings out plenty of discernible texture in low/uneven lighting and dark backgrounds. The CGI based and green screen photography softened some shots but its effects are innate and fidelity remained unaffected.
The high resolution DTS-HD MA surround mix comes in both Mandarin and English dubbed flavors (I opted for the former) and delivers the soundtrack’s elements with aplomb. The higher fidelity inherent in this lossless audio presentation is readily apparent. Dynamic range is noteworthy which renders the film’s war/action based sequences with defining impact and energy. Dialogue is presented with crystal clear intonation, full bodied texture, and deep room penetration. Qigang Chen’s music score as well as the beautiful church chorals sound airy, clear and warm. Imaging across the front soundstage is excellent as sounds are integrated with precision. This is an involving surround mix that intelligently utilizes the entire system where appropriate. During the extended Japanese bombing raid sequence the listening position is actively engaged by a mixture of spatial and discretely placed sound effects that place the listener in the heart of the action. Low frequency detail is clean, well articulated and deep as points of contact resonate with palpable impact. This isn’t a bombastic or overly aggressive soundtrack but its blend of intricate detail and room filling dynamics make for a first rate home theater experience.
* CIH users should note that the subtitles appear within the picture area.*
- (HD) The making of The Last Tycoon – 11 minute featurette
- (HD) Trailer
Loosely inspired by the life of Du Yuesheng, a prominent triad boss in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, The last tycoon is a well crafted and executed multi-genre film that features solid casting and apt direction in the hands of director Wong Jing. It comes to Blu-ray from Well Go USA and features top flight high definition audio/video and a noticeably light supplemental package that consists only of a making of documentary and trailer. Turning out to be better than expected The last tycoon on Blu-ray is well worth your time and is highly recommended viewing.
Here is the trailer. It is in Chinese but you can get the gist:
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JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package