At first — and even second — 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 (that unique Shanghai brand of jazz that combined American swing with traditional Chinese music), a title…
This isn’t really a Donnie Yen movie in the way Donnie Yen has been presenting himself in the last five or ten years. There is nary an open shirt, motorcycle jacket or MMA throwdown in sight.
This one, starring Jet Li when he was the undisputed king of being hoisted around on wires, is the epitome of mediocre 1990s wuxia. It’s a textbook case of by-the-numbers, don’t-give-a-shit Hong Kong film making from Wong Jing, the master of by-the-numbers, don’t-give-a-shit Hong Kong film making.
Now I should say here that Naked Killer definitely exists on the tamer end of the Cat III spectrum. In terms of sex and violence, its content doesn’t go far beyond what you’d see in the kind of direct to cable erotic thrillers that Cinemax was showing at the time.