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The Men Who Would Conquer China

  Directed by: Nick Torrens
Written by: Nick Torrens
Starring: Mart Bakal, Vincent Lee
Genre: Documentary
Awards: AFI Awards: Best Documentary 2004 (nominee)

This movie gets: 5.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

The Men Who Would Conquer China is also mentioned in pearly's review of Chain (2004).

"Well, did they?" - a review by pearly

Mart Bakal is a Canadian banker based in New York who plans to partner with Vincent Lee, a Hong Kong entrepreneur, and do some business in China. Bakal believes that China is ripe for the picking, thinking that its inevitable movement towards capitalism gives him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make vast amounts of money if he can pull it off.

Bakal uses Lee as a cultural gauge, as Bakal himself, with his direct American approach, has difficulties making inroads with the slower moving Chinese people.

This documentary is as much about cultural differences as it is about the ventures which Bakal and Lee are trying to pull off. Most of its interest is within the personal dynamics between the two men, with Lee speaking to camera whilst Bakal isn't around, and over the course of the film getting visibly more and more iritated at Bakal's mannerisms.

I don't know whether this was the director's intention, but towards the end of the film, I grew to really dislike Bakal. He came across as enormously selfish and egotistical, only thinking of himself, and thinking that Lee was only thinking of Lee. Whether this was supposed to be generalised out to be viewed as a portrait of the average American or not I am not sure, but that is how I began to see it. Likewise with Lee, where his most noticeable quality was that he was aware of others around him, but that also he held tradition and ideas such as "respect your elders" in high regard.

The documentary covers the exploits of these two men for what seems to be several years, and if I had a criticism, it would be that, after a while, it became quite repetitive, and almost like going through the motions. The story is told in a very linear fashion, with more "6 months later" messages than I could keep track of. And given the length of time that the filmmakers followed this story, the timing of its ending was quite disappointing, with not enough information being given about the outcomes of the ventures to satisfy the amount of time that had just been spent leading up to it. I realise that the ventures are probably still ongoing, but even a little more information would have sufficed.

pearly gives this movie 5 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 13 Sep 2004

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Number of reviews: 1
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Reader comments

  1. A true realistic doc. that emphasises that integration of business ethics in the global village of businessworld is as difficult as between religions, but can succeed due to a trive for common objectives. Can I purchase a copy of this documentary?

    A comment from H.B. Kwee on Thu 18 Nov 2004 21:37 #

  2. I would like to contact Mr. Bakal by email. Could you please disclose his contact information -- strictly for business purposes. I am not interested in his home address or phone number, just a way for me to get in touch with him. Thank you

    Rating given: 5

    A comment from Paul Bruckman on Wed 30 Mar 2005 03:41 #

  3. mart bakal is canadian.

    Rating given: 3

    A comment from Brian P. Burke II on Mon 23 Jan 2006 16:10 #

  4. Very interesting documentary about various issues faced by two unlikely partners dealing with business in China.

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from Simon Wallace on Mon 23 Jan 2006 23:26 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 5.33 (3 ratings)

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