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Monga (2010)

Báng-kah (original title)
Set in 1980s Taiwan, after the end of military dictatorship, Monga centers around the troubled lives of five boys coming of age together. The narrator of the story, Mosquito, is invited to ... See full summary »

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5 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Monk / Ho Tien-Yo
...
Mosquito / Chou Yi-Mong
Ju-Lung Ma ...
Boss Geta
Chia-yen Ko ...
Ning
...
Dragon Lee
Shih-Sian Wang ...
Wim-kian (as Jason Wang)
Emerson Tsai ...
Monkey (as Chang-Hsien Tsai)
Teng-Hui Huang ...
A-Po
Han Dian Chen ...
Dog Boy (as Han-Tien Chen)
Feng Hsing ...
Boss Masa
Hsiu-Ling Lin ...
Mosquito's Mother
Man Ning Xi ...
Dragon's Mother
Yi-Ching Lu ...
Auntie Po
...
Grey Wolf
Chieh Hou ...
Monk's Father
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Storyline

Set in 1980s Taiwan, after the end of military dictatorship, Monga centers around the troubled lives of five boys coming of age together. The narrator of the story, Mosquito, is invited to be a part of the gang after a silly fight over a chicken leg. Mosquito has grown up without a father and has never had any real friends, so after Monk, Dragon and the others take him under their wing, he discovers an irresistible world of friendship and brotherhood. However, Mosquito soon discovers that in this violent world things aren't always what they seem. When a group of mainlanders attempt to take over Monga, the fragile balance over the district's turf is threatened, friendship is tested, and loyalty is questioned. Written by Palm Springs Internation Film Festival

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Drama

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Release Date:

5 February 2010 (Taiwan)  »

Also Known As:

Monga  »

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2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Promising but not Compelling
25 July 2010 | by (Malaysia) – See all my reviews

RELEASED in February 2010, the epic-styled "Monga" became a runaway hit in Taiwan, grossing US$1.6 million in its first week. Its success in Taiwan should be obvious. Besides the historical interest in its locale (the Wanhua district of Taipei), there is the attraction of its young and hot cast of TV stars like Ethan Juan, Mark Chao and the Tom Cruise lookalike, Rhydian Vaughan.

Needless to say, Monga's success gives fresh hope to starting a 'new wave' in Taiwan's film industry. Elsewhere, however, it has to compete with the more vibrant and better-made Hong Kong gangster efforts - and the differences and weaknesses may be glaring.

Set in the 80s, high school student Mosquito (Mark Chao) explains at the start that he became a gangster because of a chicken leg. The chicken leg was his lunch and when a bully snatched it away from him, the so-called Prince Gang, led by Dragon Lee (Vaughan) intervenes - and recruits him into the 'brotherhood of five' - with Monk (Ethan Juan), Monkey and A-Po. The boys get along reasonably well with their elders, the Temple Front triad led by Dragon's dad, Geta (Ma Ju-lung).

The gang's youthful skirmishes and street fights soon develop into a more sinister conflict when mainland gangsters like Gray Wolf (played by director Doze Nui himself) try to muscle into Monga with guns - considered cowardly weapons by the locals. With a power struggle in the cards, conspiracies and betrayal follow. Will friendship triumph over greed and power? The coming-of-age story may seem clichéd but it has enough twists and turns to sustain our interest. Director Niu has developed Mosquito's character (as a fatherless kid brought up by his hair-salon owner mother) well enough to get our sympathy even though some of the subplots may be rather incredible. A case in point is his platonic relationship with a young prostitute (Ko Chia-yen) that seems a bit badly contrived. Also, the camera work on the Monga locations looks good (at least to non-Taipeh residents) and the lapses into Hokkein dialect lend a touch of reality to the film (although it can be irritating to some).

What I dislike most about the movie is the slow and draggy narrative - with repetitious bonding scenes taking nearly two-and-a-half hours to unfold a story that should be familiar to fans of gang flicks about brotherhood and betrayal. Indeed, compared to Western and HK films, the action here is mighty tame. Acting-wise, Chao and Vaughan appear rather wooden but Juan provides a powerful account of himself. Niu is also convincing as the mysterious old flame of Mosquito's mother and newcomer to the district.

Verdict: Promising but not compelling. - LIM CHANG MOH (limchangmoh.blogspot.com)


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