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 ...
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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
Another Taiwanese Cinema New Wave has officially been set off
After the stunning "What On Earth Have I Done Wrong?," the second film by the persistent director/actor Niu Cheng-Ze(aka Doze Niu) has finally been released under expectations. Besides the attractions of the new generation actors/idols Juan Ching-Tien and Zhao You-Ting(aka Mark Zhao), everyone was also expecting, if this will be better than "Cape No. 7," the Taiwanese box office miracle back in 2008. From the first day box office record, it was helped by the success of "Cape." As for the film itself, it's so much better than "Cape." The story begins from a non-Minnanese teenager, who was raised in a single parent family and had no friends, faced the embrace of the "Prince Gang," an inheritor of a major local gang, he of course couldn't resist the eagerness of getting recognized. But the best of youth also came to the inevitable testament of humanity.
Before I saw the film, I couldn't help wondering, if this will have the shadow of "I Vitelloni" by Fellini, or the look of "Goodfellas" by Fellini's follower Scorsese, or even the glamour of "City of God," by the Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. When it comes to the violent scenes, the way Niu used the slow motions and soft instrumental score reminds me of Scorsese's romantic sentiment. I could also tell he was trying to avoid any too artistic presentation. With the outstanding editing, it was very intense with the length of 140min. It inherited the deep observation of Taiwanese gangsters by Hou Hsiou-Hsien and Chang Tso-Chi but also gives it a new look for the audience to get close to more easily.
Though it's not perfect, the plot came out of Niu's thinking direction makes it more reasonable than any other new Taiwanese films. The desire for friendships of the accepted boy, Mosquito, led him to be the most loyal member in the gang. He was too innocent to see the fragility of humanity. Monk, who was considered the smartest one, could only be trapped in a fate of religious superstitions. His value of loyalty, due to one single false judgment and the raised anger of vengeance, has been pushed to the edge of his reason with the paradox in his heart. To decrease the strong masculine of a gangster piece, Niu added the young prostitute who made Mosquito know what love is. This blended a sense of tenderness into the film smartly.
Comparing to saying it has the romanticism of "Goodfellas," it's in fact closer to the tragedy of the conflict between idealism and realism we see in "Infernal Affairs" and the remake "The Departed." It's not told from a first person, unlike most Scorsese works, but from the upgraded multiple point of views such as "The Departed." More strictly defined, Mosquito and Monk, like Tony Leung and Andy Lau, DiCaprio and Damon, are the two narrators of the story. But shamefully, the characters lack of the quality of more vivid or heartfelt which they could've been, despite of the enough backgrounds and motivations and the natural twists and truths. While being so, it's still a film that represents the period and culture in Taiwan truthfully. It is unique and has the unique feeling that only Taiwanese audience can connect to.
Sandee Chan's music leads the atmosphere successfully. It even has a slight epic feeling of "The Godfather" and a slight sharpness of "City of God." With also the quality guaranteed sound processing by the national treasure Tu Du-Che, the performance of sound in the film really reached an international standard. Niu selected a hit at the time "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" by Air Supply especially to describe the time Mosquito and the young prostitute spent together. It also added up a bit of cute and retro cheesiness. The big space for the two leading actors to interpret also made them the promising candidates for the year-end's Golden Horse Awards. This film can also be seen as the unity of Taiwanese filmmakers, such as an award-winning actor from "Cape No. 7," the producer of "Orz Boyz" and even the director of "Winds of September" who joined as an assistant director with his crew. It all shows another Taiwanese Cinema New Wave has officially been set off.
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