Director: Simon Yin
Screenwriter: Derek Ting
Cast: Linus Roache, Kenneth Tsang, Derek Ting, Richard Ng, Michael Park, Kathy Uyen, Darren E. Scott
Screened at: Review 1, NYC, 7/18/12
Opens: August 10, 2012
When the British left their Hong Kong colony in 1997, they got a promise from the People’s Republic of China that Hong Kong’s capitalist system would be untouched for at least fifty years. While Hong Kong residents were right to be fearful that China would break the promise, something interesting happened. Instead of China’s communizing Hong Kong, Hong Kong capitalized (if you will) the mainland. Today cities like Shanghai and Beijing could actually be mistaken for Hong Kong.
After you see “Supercapitalist,” or as the producers prefer “$upercapitalist,” you may wonder whether Hong Kong should have had their capitalist system “reformed.” Simon Yin, using Derek Ting’s screenplay, takes the view that the dog-eat-dog mode of operation of capitalist governments is too brutal, too greedy to continue existing in its present state.
If you think that “Supercapitalist” mirrors “Wall Street”’s tagline “greed is good, you would not be entirely wrong. However this movie was made for just a million dollars, and a low-budget job with a principal actor not nearly as known as Michael Douglas cannot be put on that level. Yet the picture looks like…a million bucks…photographed in New York and Hong Kong, emphasizing the skyscrapers in both cities, the glitter, the women, the money.
If Derek Ting is not Michael Douglas, he does more than a serviceable job as Connor Lee, a Chinese-American hedge trader in New York with an uncanny prescience. He seems to have been the only trader to know that the Fed would lower the discount rate to one percent, an unheard of amount at the time, and as such he is groomed by boss, Mark Patterson (Linus Roache) to manipulate a hostile takeover of a family-owned corporation in Hong Kong under the direction of Donald Chang (Richard Ng) and his older brother, Victor (Kenneth Tsang). Under the impression that he could make hundreds of millions by shorting the stock of the company, he is befriended by extroverted Quentin Wong (Darren E. Scott), who assures Connor that money can buy all you could want in life—fast cars, equally fast women, custom-made suits—though the company’s PR director, Natalie (Kathy Uyen) lets him know that family values, fulfillment and love are more important. (Easy for her to say: she owns a new Mercedes convertible.)
The picture is involving enough, though negatives include the need of director Yin and scripter Ting to show their audience that villains are bad throughout. Quentin Wong, for example, who is not what he seems, regularly has a pair of hot women on his arms while Mark Patterson, another flawed character, has one scene that finds him cheating on his wife.
Many documentaries and dramas about economic affairs have not equaled “The Dark Knight Rises” in box office receipts. This feature, the centerpiece of the Asian International Film Festival to play July 28th at New York’s Chelsea Clearview Cinema, deserves an audience.
Unrated. 96 minutes © 2012 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B
Technical – B+
Overall – B