37 user 45 critic

A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 25 November 2011 (USA)
Based on a true story, primarily on a conflict between two youth gangs, a 14-year-old boy's girlfriend conflicts with the head of one gang for an unclear reason, until finally the conflict comes to a violent climax.


Edward Yang
10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Chen Chang ... Xiao Si'r (Zhang Zhen)
Lisa Yang Lisa Yang ... Ming (Liu Zhiming)
Kuo-Chu Chang ... Father
Elaine Jin ... Mother
Chuan Wang ... Eldest Sister
Han Chang ... Elder Brother
Hsiu-Chiung Chiang ... Middle Sister
Stephanie Lai Stephanie Lai ... Youngest Sister (as Fanyun Lai)
Chi-tsan Wang Chi-tsan Wang ... Cat (Wang Mao)
Lawrence Ko ... Airplane (Ji Fei)
Chih-Kang Tan Chih-Kang Tan ... Ma
Ming-Hsin Chang Ming-Hsin Chang ... Underpants (Mingxin) (as Mingxin Zhang)
Chun-Lung Jung Chun-Lung Jung ... Bomber (Chang Po-wen)
Hui-Kuo Chou Hui-Kuo Chou ... Tiger (Xiao Hu) (as Huiguo Zhou)
Ching-Chi Liu Ching-Chi Liu ... Hefty (Da Ge) (as Qingqi Liu)


Based on a true story, primarily on a conflict between two youth gangs, a 14-year-old boy's girlfriend conflicts with the head of one gang for an unclear reason, until finally the conflict comes to a violent climax.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The film was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Academy Awards but was not nominated. See more »

Alternate Versions

Director's Cut is 237 minutes long. See more »


References The Alamo (1960) See more »


Angel Baby
Composed by Rose Hamlin
Performed by Chi-tsan Wang
See more »

User Reviews

one of the greatest films of all time
31 March 2001 | by cranesareflyingSee all my reviews

This film is prefaced in a historical context, with the understanding that Chinese Taiwan was formed in 1949 with several million Chinese being forced to cross over into Taiwan from mainland China, into a world they knew nothing about, so they were required to build their new lives with great insecurity about the future, and this film is about their first generation of offspring, the anxieties of the parents created a world of anxieties for their children, who search for their own greater security and their own self identity through the formation of street gangs, whose inner turmoil is largely a reflection of the world around them. The Taiwanese identity is revealed to be a sense of perpetual exile.

Edward Yang's own father fled from Shanghai. Artifacts from other countries have great impact in this film, the use of Japanese samurai swords which are ultimately used as murder weapons, Russian novels are read by teenagers and understood as `swordsmen' novels, a family's observation that the Chinese fought the Japanese for 20 years only to then live in Japanese houses listening to Japanese music, an old tape recorder that has been left behind by the WWII American forces is used to adapt American lyrics and American rock n roll music for the Chinese, the film features American doo-wop music, first love, cigarettes, casual dress, the influence of Hollywood motion picture magazines and movies, the voice of John Wayne can be heard in one of the movie theaters, the title of the film comes from the Elvis Presley song, `Are You Lonesome Tonight,' a comment on the dark cloud hanging over everyone's heads, hardly a brighter, summer day.

The film took 5 years in preparation, and although completed in 1991, it has never found a distributor, it involves a cast of over 100 speaking parts, largely non-professional teen-age actors, 92 different sets, it takes place in the poorer Tapei district in 1961, using the filmmaker's own memories of his adolescence, shot at his high school, inspired by a true incident of a 14 year old boy murdering a 13 year old girl, the first juvenile murder case in Taiwan's history, the film opens and closes with an old, broken down radio broadcasting the lists of graduating students. In this context of a repressive, militaristic government, family chaos, the constant threat of gang fights, the need for a good education, the idea that hard work can bring success, is seen as paramount.

For all those `Yi Yi' fans who don't understand the complexity of this film, let me just remind you about the title, `A Brighter, Summer Day,' this is a film for which those words have no meaning, and unlike `Yi Yi,' which had the charming optimism of Yang-Yang, an as yet undeveloped child who has a future, `Yi Yi ` was much more a `perfect' film, everything was neatly examined and explained, there's a perfect symmetry, on whole it's balanced, it feels like a complete experience, but `A Brighter Summer Day' offers no such peace of mind, it's a raw emotional roller coaster where the last hour or so is filled with such complete anguish and despair, nearly all the family members have their singular moments where they are the focus of the pain and anguish, the understated personal horrors can leave one breathless. Most of the world's viewing audience of films have been spared this kind of personal degradation, and therefore have no personal reference points to connect with such despair, but Yang, to his credit, spares no one. The film's greatness lies in it's complete lack of artifice, it's meticulously chosen shot selection, brilliant imagery mixed with an equally brilliant narrative, a devastating portrait of children on the precipice of darkness, one of the more complex human examinations of the after-effects of a subjugated nation, which is still, at heart, a police state, yet there is a breaking out from the bonds of repression by rebellious teen-age kids who have affectations of violence and a love of Elvis, freedom, and rock n roll.

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Mandarin | Min Nan | Shanghainese

Release Date:

25 November 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Brighter Summer Day See more »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Mono



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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