Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Last Tycoon

Go To

The Last Tycoon is a 2012 Hong Kong film directed by Wong Jing, starring Chow Yun-fat, Sammo Hung, Francis Ng and Huang Xiaoming. It is loosely based on the life of Du Yuesheng, a Shanghai mob boss.

In a small Chinese town in the 1910s, a young man, Cheng Daqi, is framed for a murder he did not commit. He escapes from the prison with the help of Mao Zai, a military officer who was in jail with him. Daqi has to flee to Shanghai, where he becomes a mobster, while his love interest, Ye Zhiqiu, goes to Beijing to become an opera singer.

Not to be confused with the unfinished final novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, or its film and television adaptations.

The Last Tycoon provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Zhiqiu's father beats her because she practice stick dance.
  • Almost Dead Guy: In the prison, Hong Shouting's wife survives long enough to have a little chat with Daqi when he comes to free her, then she dies.
  • Anachronic Order: The first scene where Daqi attends a Chinese opera show actually happens just before the climax of the film. Then the film recounts Daqi's life from the 1910's to that point in an anachronic order.
  • Assassination Attempt: General Nishino is killed while he is attending a Beijing opera show. A performer simply throws a spear at him.
  • At the Opera Tonight: The climax of the film is a Chinese opera show that turns into a battle between the Japanese soldiers and the Chinese collaborators and La Résistance.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: In the end Daqi's car was stopped by a large number of Japanese troops. Daqi refused to surrender with the credits fade to black just after they begin shooting.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: Daqi meets Zhiqiu in a church when assassins shows up. Daqi manages to kill them all in the church.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Mao Zai, who is appointed governor by the Japanese. Lu Xiaojia also collaborates with the Japanese and he is appointed mayor of Shanghai.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • In the church where she meets Daqi, Zhiqiu is held at gunpoint by an assassin. Daqi manages to save her. The same situation happens again years later in the theater. This time Bao manages to save her.
    • Hong Shouting's wife is kept prisoner by the Japanese. Daqi tries to free her, but she dies before she can escape.
  • Dashed Plot Line: Only key events of Daqi's life are told (in anachronic order). His departure from his native village in 1913, his meeting with Zhiqiu in Beijing in 1915, his role in the battle of Shanghai in 1937, his return to Shanghai in the 1940's...
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Daqi loves both Bao and Zhiqiu. Bao is killed in the end, in an attempt to save Daqi and Zhiqiu.
  • Distressed Dude: Hong Shouting is caught by Lu Xiaojia and Daqi has to free him.
  • Epic Movie: A historical movie with many characters, recontructions of streets, of battles, etc.
  • Evil Mentor: Mao Zai teaches Daqi to kill. He suggests him to go to Shanghai to become a gangster. In the end, he becomes allied with the Japanese and Daqi must fight him.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Zhiqiu's father does not want her to become an opera singer. When he comes back home and he catches her practicing stick dance, he is furious and beats her.
  • Foreshadowing: The first Put Down Your Gun and Step Away (in the church) foreshadows the second one (in the theatre). After the first one, Zhiqiu even tells Daqi: "I can't handle a recurrence of what happened yesterday."
  • Frameup: In the beginning, Captain Pei, the lover of the wife of Daqi's boss, frames Daqi up for the murder of his boss and the attempted rape of his boss's wife.
  • The Gentleman or the Scoundrel: Ye Zhiqiu's first lover is Cheng Daqi, who becomes a mob boss. She breaks up with him because she does not want to live a dangerous life. She gets married with the serious Cheng Zhaimei. Years later, when Zhiqiu meets Daqi again, she realizes that she still has feelings for him.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: Greatly pays homage to this genre, being a story of rising within the triads, the power struggle that comes within, shootouts with characters going Guns Akimbo, loads and loads of extras getting shot, and starring the definite icon of Heroic Bloodshed cinema, Chow Yun-fat in a key role.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lin's fate. In order to help Daqi to escape, he confronts the Japanese soldiers alone and he blows up his explosive belt.
  • How We Got Here: In the first scene, Daqi is going to attend a Chinese opera show in Shanghai during the Japanese occupation. Then the film recounts Daqi's life from the 1910's to that point.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of General Nishino and many collaborators in the hall when the dancers throw their spears at them.
  • The Last Title
  • Love Triangle:
    • Daqi has feelings for both Zhiqiu and Bao, who both reciprocate.
    • Zhiqiu has feelings for both Daqi and Zhaimei, who both reciprocate.
  • Missing Mom: Zhiqiu's background. Her Fantasy-Forbidding Father raised her alone. She promised her mother on her deathbed to play the female warrior.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Hong Shouting and Cheng Daqi are mob bosses, but they are more honest than the National Revolutionary Army. They participate in the defense of Shanghai against the Japanese, then Daqi joins La Résistance.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: The main characters are expies of historical figures: Cheng Daqi is based on Du Yuesheng, Hong Shouting on Huang Jinrong, Mao Zai on Dai Li, Ye Zhiqiu on Meng Xiaodong, Ling Husheng on Lin Jiasheng, and Lin Huai on Lin Huaibu.
  • Old Flame: Cheng Daqi and Ye Zhiqiu meet again some 20 years after their last meeting in Beijing. They are both married now, but they realize that they still have feelings for each other.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Happens twice.
    • First when Daqi and Zhiqiu meet in a church. Daqi outguns them, but an assassin takes Zhiqiu hostage and asks him to put down his gun. Daqi manages to shoot him down.
    • Then in the theater, Mao Zai takes Zhiqiu hostage and asks Daqi to put down his gun. Bao shows up and manages to save Daqi and Zhiqiu, but she is killed in the shootout.
  • La Résistance: Daqi becomes a member of the Resistance during the occupation of Shanghai by the Japanese army, while posing as a collaborator. He organizes the murder of a Japanese general and the release of Chinese prisoners.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: To avenge his mentor Hong Shouting, who has gone crazy, and his wife, who died in prison, Daqi and the Resistance stage an attack in the theatre and they kill Nishino, Mao Zai and many collaborators and Japanese soldiers in the process.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Lu Xiaojia kills his father for going against the Japanese army.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Cheng Daqi and Ye Zhiqiu. They fell in love with each other in their native village, but Daqi has to flee to Shanghai, while Zhiqiu goes to Beijing to become an opera singer. Two years later, Daqi meets her in Beijing, but assassins attack them. Zhiqiu realizes that Daqi is a mobster and she breaks up with him because she does not want to live a dangerous life. They meet again some 20 years later when they are both married and they realize that they still have feelings for each other.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Hong Shouting and Cheng Daqi are Chinese mob bosses.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Loosely based on the life of Du Yuesheng, a Shanghai mob boss.
  • Villainous Rescue: Captain Pei frames Daqi up for the murder of Daqi's boss. Daqi is on death row, when Mao Zai, the main villain of the film, frees him.
  • We Can Rule Together: Nishino and Mao Zai offer Daqi to become the mayor of Shanghai. Daqi pretends to accept.