Tai-Pan (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tai-Pan (1986)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Daryl Duke directed this epic adventure, based on James Clavell's best-selling novel, concerning the battle for control of the China trade in early 19th-century Hong Kong. The film takes place in 1842 on the China Coast, where the Chinese object to the British imperialist policy of buying opium from the Chinese and then selling it back to them at a higher price. As a result, British warships arrive to pound the recalcitrant Chinese into submission. The outcome of the assault is a treaty giving England the right to operate Hong Kong as a free-port. The problem is who will become the Tai-Pan, or British merchant ruler of Hong Kong? The battle lines for the position are drawn between two swashbucklers -- Dirk Struan (Bryan Brown), a skipping and jumping buccaneer, and Tyler Brock (John Stanton), a weaselly cheat. Brock makes the first move by forcing Straun into bankruptcy, but, thanks to the help of the local prostitute May-May (Joan Chen), who has a score to settle with Brock, Straun is able to raise the money at the last minute. This enrages Brock, who remains bitter through the years and finally confronts Straun in a climactic sword fight.
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Action & Adventure , Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Vestron Video


Bryan Brown
as Dirk Struan/Tai-Pan
John Stanton
as Tyler Brock
Joan Chen
as May-May
Tim Guinee
as Culum Struan
Russell Wong
as Gordon
Janine Turner
as Shevaun
Norman Rodway
as Quance
Jovita Adrineda
as Servant Girl
Bob Appleby
as British Merchant
Chang Cheng
as Jin Qua
Patrick Ryecart
as Capt. Glessing
Nicholas Gecks
as Horatio
Dickey Beer
as Brock's Crew
Carol Gillies
as Mrs. Brock
Chan Lub Bun
as Elderly Chinese Woman
Bert Remsen
as Tillman
Barbara Keogh
as Mrs. Quance
Lisa Lu
as Ah Gip
Rosemarie Dunham
as Mrs. Fotheringill
Robert Easton
as Zergeyev
Rob Spendlove
as Nagrek
Tim Guince
as Culum
Shu Chen (II)
as Chen Sheng
Kwang Pan
as Kwang Kuo
Richard Foo
as Lin Din
Kam Siu
as Executioner
Job Stewart
as Dr. Gonzales
Joycelyne Lew
as Beaten Whore
Denise Kellogg
as Nude Model
Charles Woods
as British Merchant
Pat Gorman
as British Merchant
Ian Sheridan
as British Merchant
Vic Armstrong
as Drunken Sailor
Billy Horrigan
as Brock's Crew
Bronco McLoughlin
as Brock's Crew
Patty Toy
as Poxed Whore
Mac Wheater
as British Merchant
Chuang Cheng
as Jin Qua
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Critic Reviews for Tai-Pan

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (1)

Although the film as the first American feature to be shot in the People's Republic of China, there is little visual evidence for this accomplishment.

August 25, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Tai-Pan

Tai-Pan (1986) Although I'm a big fan of James Clavell's Shogun, I thought that his book Tai-Pan was far superior. His book about the early China trade, starting with the Opium Wars and then the taking of the island of Hong Kong by the British was wonderful. This brought a continuation of his characters on the rest of his series of books about Asia. The movie, Tai-Pan was perfect timing for the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group with the up-coming transfer of Hong Kong sovereignty back to mainland China in 1997. Unfortunately the transfer of this story to film, just didn't work as well. I still think that it covered the book okayl and it's well worth a viewing especially if your a James Clavell fan. Although Roger Ebert called this movie "The Battle of the Breasts", it does have some of the most beautiful and sexy women of the 80s; Joan Chen, Kyra Sedgwick, Janine Turner, Katy Behean, and scores of unknown cuties. Dirk Struan (Brian Brown) is a Scottish leader of a fleet of sailing ships in the lucrative trading with China. He deals with pirates, corrupt officials, and competing, villainous merchants. He has to deal with high finance and political intrigue to stay afloat and alive.

Rick Rudge
Rick Rudge

A story of early Hong Kong. Precursor to the TV mini series Noble House, which is not listable but starred Piers Brosnan.

Chris Ross Leong
Chris Ross Leong

At first you think your going to get an mgm spectacular with how it begins. Then it goes down hill from there. You can tell it was made in the 80's. The lead actor just makes u not like him. It glorifies opium smugglers but whats interesting is that it really added to the city/countries growth. Sad ending.

Super Kawaii
Super Kawaii

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