At first glance, Last Tycoon is a movie that seems custom-made for me and based entirely on some of my favorite obsessions: Shanghai during the 20s and 30s, old-time fashion, Jazz Age decadence, shidaiqu, a title stolen from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, and Chow Yun-fat in a cool suit blowing suckers away. Pretty perfect set of ingredients, right?
It’s cheap, shoddy, sloppy, and generally idiotic. But it’s not lazy, it’s not mean-spirited, and it’s not lethargic. This isn’t the kind of movie that will turn someone into a Hong Kong movie fan, but if you’ve been one for a long time, then you might, like me, find a movie worth enjoying amid all this nonsense.