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Good Men, Good Women (1995)
"Hao nan hao nu" (original title)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 627 users  
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Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Annie Shizuka Inoh ...
Liang Ching / Chiang Bi-Yu
Giong Lim ...
Chung Hao-Tung
Jack Kao ...
Ah Wei
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ah-Cheng
Chia-Hui Bao
Cheng-Liang Chen
Chiao-e Chen
Duan Chen
Fei-Wen Chen
Hsin Yi Chen
Ming-Chung Chen
Shu-fang Chen
Yi-Shan Chen
Kuei-Chung Cheng
Ching Hsia Chiang
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Storyline

Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as well as the past and present as linked by a young woman, Liang Ching. She is being persecuted by an anonymous man who calls her repeatedly but does not speak. He has stolen her diary and faxes her pages daily. Liang is also rehearsing for a new film that is due to go into production soon. The film, entitled Haonan Haonu, is about a couple Chiang Bi-yu and Chung Hao-tung who returns to China to participate in the anti-Japanese movement in China in the 1940s and are arrested as communists when they go back to Taiwan. Written by L.H. Wong <as9401k56@ntuvax.ntu.ac.sg>

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Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

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Release Date:

9 December 1995 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Good Men, Good Women  »

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1.78 : 1
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Features Late Spring (1949) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good People
27 October 2007 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

The conclusion of Hou's Taiwanese history trilogy, 'Good Men, Good Women' is not purely a continuation of the previous films' themes. It is an amalgamation of the past, present, and the connections between both. The two time periods in this film (or is it three?) are gradually intertwined to tell one cohesive story.

In modern day Taipei, an actress Liang Ching (Annie Shizuka Inoh) is rehearsing for the role of Chiang Bi-Yu, a woman who traveled to China to find the Japanese in the 1940's. Liang is struggling and distraught because of the death of her gangster boyfriend Ah Wei (Jack Kao) a few years prior and because an anonymous man is faxing her pages of her stolen diary which restitute her previous memories of her time with Ah, and after his death. Liang's imaginary episodes of what the film will be like, which are for the most part shot in black and white, her immediate present, and her immediate past are all mixed together with the deftest emotional accuracy.

The shots are so artistically accomplished that they are able to properly the connection of all history and past, with current personal events, and the eternal, constant binds of time. Liang's story nearly directly mirrors Chiang Bi Yu's. Both contemplate in alienation; when Chiang and her compatriots whom she enters China do not speak the language of those who they are trying to help because of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan which, for them, just recently ended. They are labeled as Japanese spies, and nearly killed, and upon the return to Taiwan they are labeled as communists. Because of the oppressive government and recent horrific acts committed by it they want to make a change to make life better. No matter how questionable and near-sighted their political views, they wanted to make some sort of change. Liang and her 'compatriots' are drowning in shallowness. Hou praises the courage of that older generation, but none of that is found in Liang's age. Yet, he appears to say, that these are the same people who go through similar experiences, and are only molded by the world around them, and therefore by history. Over time, the dream for a better future gives way to the dream for more profit because of the implications of history and the political.

In the previous films of the 'trilogy', Hou searched for the relationship between life and a certain form of art. Here, it is of cinema, and therefore Hou questions his own role. Ozu's 'Late Spring' plays on a television near the beginning, and in a self-referential manner, helps represents how cinema is able to understand a people, and their conflicts whether interior or exterior. In the previous films of the 'trilogy', Hou searched for the relationship between life and a certain form of art. Here, it is of cinema, and therefore Hou questions his own role. Ozu's 'Late Spring' plays on a television near the beginning, and in a self-referential manner, helps represents how cinema is able to understand a people, and their conflicts whether interior or exterior.

The regrets of the nation and the regrets of the person are all subtly laid out to dry. In order to move forward into a non-unsure and non-insecure future the regrets must be confronted. It's an eventual and long, process but one that must be done. The political invades the personal, and history's consequences affect the psychological. The implications are devastating - the present condition or 'shallowness' seemed to have been allowed to occur by the acts of the past. This is not a film that is only understandable by Taiwanese standards. It is a universal portrait of the history inherit in the present.

The haunting power of the film is completely understated and will surely always linger on in the viewer's mind. It may not have the rhapsodic epic profoundness of some of Hou's other films, but it contains the grand humanism that they also have. The film is ultimately extremely encapsulating, and with Hou's formal rigour, style, and rhythm, and the expertly grounded performances it is utterly captivating, and exquisite viewing.


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