Screened as part of NZIFF 2005

The Men Who Would Conquer China 2004

Directed by Nick Torrens

In-depth and highly entertaining documentary account of partnership between two successful entrepreneurs: a pushy New York investment banker and a savvy Hong Kong businessman.

Australia In Cantonese, English and Mandarin with English subtitles
78 minutes Beta-SP

Director, Screenplay, Photography, Narrator


Jane St Vincent Welch


David Birdie
Paul Anthony Smith


Sydney 2005


How does a New York investment banker go about buying companies owned by the state of China, support that country’s transition to capitalism, and make a fortune at the same time? For millionaire Mart Bakal, whose company, Crimson Capital, oversaw massive privatisation programmes in Eastern Europe, the key is Hong Kong entrepreneur Vincent Lee. Mart’s relationship with Vincent’s own agenda of responsibility to a Chinese business dynasty becomes the fulcrum on which this highly entertaining film pivots. It also provides a lens through which we can assess the differences between the impatient, wise-cracking New Yorker and the elegant, incisive Chinese man. We watch, over a three-year period, as they negotiate with intractable Chinese bureaucrats, tour Chinese factories seeking Western investment, and schmooze business luncheons and official receptions. Rifts in their unlikely partnership are divulged to the filmmakers with increasing exasperation. The perplexity and confusion attendant upon China’s looming significance in the capitalist world are played out in this fascinating microcosm.