The return of Taiwanese cinema

Posted on April 27, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Taiwanese cinema enjoyed its peak from the early 80s until mid 90s. This was the New Wave and second New Wave period during which many talented directors made their marks. Apart from the art house cinema's favourite, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, there are also Wu Nien-jen, Tsai Ming-liang,now the most famous Taiwanese director, Ang Lee, and my personal favourite, Edward Yang.

Unfortunately, Taiwanese film industry went into decline from mid 90s onwards due to foreign competitions, piracy and simply a change of the audiences' taste. Finally, in the last few years, several local films like Cape No. 7, Monga, Seediq Bale and You Are the Apple of My Eye etc were able to enjoy huge box office successes in Taiwan ( and even in Hong Kong). Hence, Taiwanese cinema is now enjoying its revival with many new directors offering something fresh and poignant back to the local cinema.

Recently I saw three very different Taiwanese films but all immensely enjoyable:


Go Grandriders ( directed by Tian-hao Hua) - this wonderful and touching documentary follows 17 octogenarians ( their average age was 81) who took a 1,178km trip around Taiwan by motorcycles within 2 weeks. Although the film is not overly sentimental, I was moved to tears by the riders' courage, passion and determination. The positive and "young at heart" attitude is admirable, and it makes you realise that it is never too late to follow your dream. I highly recommend this to everyone especially elderly who suffer from illnesses because it will bring hope and forgotten dreams back.



Touch of the light ( Directed by Jung-Chi Chang) is a feature film based on the director's previous short film, “End of the Tunnel,” about the life story of blind Taiwanese piano prodigy Yu-siang Huang, who also plays himself in the film. Although not a groundbreaking film, it is sensitive, funny, down to earth and inspiring. Both leads ( including actressSandrine Pinna) are natural and likable, and have good chemistry on screen. It is rare to see films depicting the difficulties and prejudices that blind people face in their everyday lives, so it is commendable for the director to do so without turning it into a soppy melodrama.



Will you still love me tomorrow? ( Directed by Arvin Chen) is the second feature by the American Taiwanese director and after receiving critical acclaim for his first feature, "Au Revoir Taipei", expectations are high on his new film. Fortunately, this film did not disappoint, it even reminds me of Ang Lee's "Wedding Banquet" because of the topic and style. It is a romcom yet it deals with issues such as repressed sexuality, betrayal and traditional family values. The acting of the entire cast ( most are well-known singers in Taiwan) is superb, but I thought Mavis Fan is particularly outstanding. A difficult and unusual topic to handle esp. in the rather conservative Chinese society, but the director has done a great job and the ending is surprisingly "sweet and comforting".



It's too early to predict if Taiwanese cinema will continue to flourish in the years to come, but with these new talents and investment and support from the government's cultural department, things are definitely looking up and I look forward to seeing more good work from Taiwan.


This post was posted in Films & documentaries and was tagged with documentaries, films, Taiwanese cinema