Bo Wah Chuen is of mixed European and Chinese ancestry. To make things more interesting, he does not know his real parents as he grows up. His adopted mother had just lost a child when she accepted him. This sets up a long list of difficulties for him, but also gives him impetus to succeed in life.
After his best friend (a girl he hoped to marry), whose family was close to his family, dies in a storm, Bo and his family convert to Christianity. Years later, as a teen, the priest helps him go to school to learn reading and writing. School is tough for him at first. He's bigger and older, but cannot write his own name. He gets his first pair of shoes (oi), and first land-side job. When he sees musical notation, engineering diagrams, a picture of young queen Elizabeth, and a living Taipan who resides in Hong Kong, everything changes for him. His father does his best to keep him fishing with the family.
Years later he is able to leave his father's boat and the fishing life. When his father dies about the time of the birth of his seventh sister, Bo becomes the head of the family. He took in several jobs to keep the family afloat, but times are tougher without the father.
His mother give up some of her children to couples who want to adopt, and encourages some of the daughters to marry. Bo learns more about Christianity and decides to learn English. His reddish hair gets him a job at the Imperial East India company as an office boy. His English teacher is a dedicated mainland China communist. Bo gets some political education as well as English. The downside is that he loses promotions because he sounds more like a parrot than an English speaker.
Teaching his mum how to write the Chinese words for 'sea' and 'fish' was touching. Watching her reading later was heart-warming. Bribing teachers, not so much.
He asks for housing at work. The man he asks gave him grief the first time because he could not say his name. This time he did. To get the housing he needed to be married and a full-time employee. Back to the drawing board!
His mother and the children still with her get a boat, and leave the area. Bo stays with the company and moves up. His negotiations to marry the young woman he's known for some years makes a little progress. As 1997 approaches, anti-British riots make life a bit uncomfortable, but it's an opportunity for the Imperial East India to choose a more Chinese looking face in its executives.
Bo meets Fion (Chinese, studied architecture in Los Angeles), who teaches him about social graces in upper class Hong Kong society. This is both a blessing and a curse.
How high will Bo rise? The results are rather mixed. He has a British passport, but because he is a Hong Kong native (British colony) he has to get in the queue for 'aliens.' He can function at upper class events, but his wife has a lot of problems being at them.
Cinematography: 10/10 Fine, often beautiful.
Sound: 8/10 Good.
Acting: 8/10 Aaron Kwok was rather good, and he in on screen most of the time. I liked many of the supporting actors.
Screenplay: 8/10 Moves along reasonably well over the course of Bo's life. Rich and layered.
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