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Review of Taiwanese Movies and TV Shows

Moneyboys Movie Review

MoneyboysThis is my review of Moneyboys (金錢男孩), a Taiwanese LGBTQ film that was released on 12 July 2021 at Cannes.

About

Fei lives in the city working as a “Moneyboy”, a sex worker and sends money back to his family. His family accepts his money but not his sexuality. Fei struggles to make a new life for himself but appears to get much worse.

The film was made in Taipei City, Taiwan, but is set in China. So the perspective of this movie is that of being gay and a sex worker there. It appears to have been a joint production between a number of countries. It was made in Mandarin although the version we saw appeared to have English titles at the beginning and end.

Cast

I have never heard of any of the actors in the movie, no familiar faces.

Kai Ko (柯震東) as Liang Fei
His father is singer Ke Yaozong. Kai Ko’s career goes back to playing movies in 2011 and directing “Bad Education” in 2021. He won the 48th Golden Horse Award for Best New Performer Award for the movie “You Are The Apple of my Eye”.

JC Lin (林哲熹) as Han Xiao Lai
He has appeared in numerous TV shows and films since 2018.

Bai Yu Fan (白宇帆) as Liang Long
He is an actor from China who graduated from the Nanjing University of the Arts. Before becoming an actor he served in the liberation army.

Review

This film received a lot of praise from many people and many global awards from different film festivals including Cannes.

The film is what I would classify as “artsy”. I am guessing this is why it won a lot of awards. Some said it was “realistic” and didn’t include any of the cliches you normally see in LGBTQ movies, which is true. It is also very different from any other Taiwanese, or Asian come to that, movie or TV series.

However, it isn’t a happy film, in fact, there isn’t a jolly moment throughout its 2 hours. The movie shows sequences of people doing nothing and not talking to each other much, I guess this is what they call artsy but I just felt “what on earth is relevant about this scene”. Two times they showed a movement on a gravelly road and I’m not sure what that had to do with the movie, maybe an artistic inner concept of the story. I didn’t find the cinematography as great as some people had described it.

Virtually every city sequence showed squaller, just the worst of the country on display.

Even though the ending wasn’t positive, I was left thinking “that’s the end”? We were left thinking Fei is going to be miserable forever looking back to one moment of happiness in his life. Maybe the moral of the story is “don’t be gay or a sex worker otherwise you are destined for misery your entire life”, maybe this is realistic for life in China.

If artsy movies are your thing then this might be a film for you. Personally, I will give it a 1 out of 5.

How To Watch

The movie is available and is licensed to Mubi.

Links

Trailer

2022-07-04T16:29:57+00:004 July 2022|Review Taiwan|

I WeirDo Review

IWeirDoI WeirDo (怪胎) is a movie from Taiwan that was released on 7 August 2020.

About

Chen Po Ching and Chen Ching both suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). One day they bump into each other in a supermarket and form the perfect loving relationship. Things are going well until Po Ching recovers from OCD and realises freedoms he never experienced before leaving Chen Ching behind.

The entire film is shot on an iPhoneXS.

Cast

The two main actors I have seen in previous productions.

Austin Lin (林柏宏) as Chen Po Chin.
I last saw him in the Chinese series Yolk Man, it was an amazing series that is a must-see. Austin is a Taiwanese actor, singer and model born in Taipei.

Nikki Hsieh (謝欣穎) as Chen Ching
I last saw her in the Sci-Fi Romance series Meet Me @ 1006, another great series. Nikki is an actress and model.

Summary

The first thing that drew my attention to this movie was the camera work. At first, I thought something had gone wrong with my TV but noticed that it was done on purpose and for a reason. The quality of the film was good and I would never have realised it was shot on an iPhone. I would have liked to have seen some “behind the scene” work to see how they managed this process and edited it together, maybe they did that on a regular computer.

The storyline was unique, at least to me, and the characters developed well over time although I might have written it slightly differently.  At first, the characters were funny, it looked at the lighter side of being OCD. Later on, however, it became serious as they encountered obstacles.

Both Austin and Nikki did a good job. I think that Nikki was more the star of the show than Austin was, maybe she just had a better part.

The movie felt low budget. I’m not sure if it was the camera work or just because they focused on a story in a minimalist environment to reflect the characters’ condition. There was one interesting special effects sequence.

The film is worth watching and I would give it 4/5.

To find more about OCD please visit the Mayo Clinic website.

Trailer

2022-02-10T21:57:28+00:0010 February 2022|Review Taiwan|

A Choo Review

A ChooI came across this movie from a review by someone else and although it was not highly rated thought it was interesting enough to check out.

About

Warning: Spoilers

Growing up in an orphanage Wang Yi Zhi and Ye Jian Han both fall in love with Hsin Hsin. She happens to mention that she would fall for a strong man and in order to win her heart one of the guys becomes a boxer and the other a policeman. The story centers around Wang Yi Zhi who is trained by ex-superhero Flash.

Hsin Hsin falls in love with cowardly superhero Sonic, and when she is kidnapped it’s up to Wang Yi Zhi and Ye Jian Han to save the day, and win her heart, by defeating the evil Cube.

“A Choo” [打噴嚏] is a Taiwanese movie released on 15th July 2020. It is 1 hour 42 minutes in duration and can be found on Netflix.

Cast

The cast in this movie is very impressive.

Chen Tung Ko plays Wang Yi Zhi
One of the few actors I had never heard of and placed in a lead role, his performance was good. He has a mix of leading and support roles in other movies but no TV series, as far as I can tell.

Darren Wang (Wang Dalu) plays Ye Jian Han
I have seen Darren in several productions including film Super Me. He is becoming extremely popular with two films and two TV series currently in production.

Ariel Lin plays Hsin Hsin
I always thought Ariel was a singer but hadn’t realized how many Movies and TV Shows she’s been in.

Louis Koo plays Flash
I was stunned to see Louis Koo in this production, mind you he is starring in so many movies these days it’s difficult to miss one. To think last week, we only saw him in All’s Well End’s Well. His part was serious with a bit of comedy thrown in. He has six different films in production, not sure where he gets the energy from.  It was great to see him in this production.

Review

During the movie I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I was thinking it’s just a film about two guys trying to win the heart of a female but never expected it to be about superheroes. So, the two main superheroes involved; Flash ended up a recluse and Sonic was a coward. It was up to someone with no powers, as much as he wanted them, to save the day.

The production quality was surprisingly good, especially the CGI. With Netflix’s investment in the movie the production team were able to afford outsourcing it to a quality effects company, I don’t know really.

If there is one thing to remember about the movie it would be “if you get knocked down, keep getting up” or maybe “you don’t have to be a superhero to achieve remarkable things”.

I’ve heard that many people enjoy the work of Giddens Ko who was the screenwriter on this movie.  He is a well-known Taiwanese novelist, film director, screenwriter, and film producer. I heard that in 2014 the CCP ordered all his works in China be removed from bookshelves for supporting an organization that was involved in the Hong Kong protests. However, many of the cast in A Choo were Chinese, so not sure if China still dislikes him.

Like others, I would give this movie a 7 out of 10.

Trailer

2021-09-13T20:05:48+00:0013 September 2021|Review Taiwan|

Because of You Review

Because of You is an LGBTQ TV show from Taiwan, this is my review.

About

Because of YouThis is a very basic description of the show.

Because of You is about 3 brothers who come from a wealthy family all of whom have different mothers. They all compete against running their fathers company. Oh, they are all gay. A new person comes into the life of their family who could actually be the 4th brother.

Two brothers are from Taiwan and the other is from South Korea.

Crew

The two prominent actors in this show, in my opinion, are as follows:

Lee Shi Kang (이시강)
He plays the Korean brother Yuan Jun Cheng. The actor is the most prominent of the cast, Lee Shi Kang has appeared in numerous TV shows. In 2010 he debuted as a member of the K-Pop boy group, KINO. I am currently watching him in South Korean soap opera A Man in a Veil.

Mu Ji Hsu (徐謀俊)
He seems a fairly new actor although he does look familiar, I wonder if I’ve seen him in something else?

Review

Fans appeared to upset that the show was only 10 x 15-minute episodes and hoped for some more.  There will, however, be a second season.

Because of You has a basic good storyline going, not just a “falling in love” story, which was an immediate draw to watch it. However, I don’t know whether it was the direction or the story being too short for 10 episodes but something was missing, I just can’t put my finger on it. Maybe the writer had the basics rights but didn’t expand on them well enough.

Each of the couples had their own side story and they fit that into the show very well. To avoid the gaps that part of the show could have been expanded more.

The oddest thing about the show was the South Korean brother only speaking in Korean and the rest of the cast spoke in Mandarin, however, they all appeared to understand each other.

Overall, I would say the show is very watchable, nicely presented, good locations, and sets the groundwork to bounce into a second season where hopefully they can develop the characters more. I would rate it 3/5.

The show is available on Viki and other good services.

Trailer

2021-09-21T02:34:18+00:0023 March 2021|Review Taiwan|

Your Name Engraved Herein Review

This will be a very short review since I only managed to get through 15 minutes of this movie.

About

SPOILERS

According to the summaries of the movie, two boys from a Christian School during martial law in Taiwan are let out for a day and experience the world like they haven’t done before. Both are gay but despite this one marries a woman. The two meet up after 30 years of not seeing each other than reflect on the past but will they rekindle a romance?

Review

I do seem to be in a minority of people who didn’t appreciate the film so I would recommend checking it out for yourself.

The point at which I turned the movie off was the abuse scenes in the locker room. I’ve seen the same old stuff repeated across many LGBTQ orientated films and didn’t really want to re-experience it again. I also saw much of this in real life during the 1960s/70s and quite frankly I just need to move on from those dire days.

The LGBTQ community is becoming more represented in TV and film but the characters are focused around drugs, violence, drunkenness, sex and poor behaviour. I tend to see this a lot in western productions and seem to have better luck with Asian programs focus on a story that aligns with my thinking.

Based on what I saw I just give it a 1/5.

This is the first Taiwanese production, TV or film, I have not enjoyed. I guess there is always a first time.

Trailer

2021-09-21T02:37:29+00:0028 December 2020|Review Taiwan|

10,000 Miles Review

Every Sunday we watch a different Asian movie and this past weekend it was Taiwanese film 10,000 Miles.

About

Kevin is from a rough neighbourhood in Taiwan and his dream is to become a champion runner. He is connected to a coach named Ellie, a former runner, who he falls in love with. He competes in the Silk Road Marathon to win her heart however she is hiding the truth about her health.

Celebrities

Darren Wang (Wang Da Lu | 王大陸) plays Kevin. Darren is a very much in demand Taiwanese actor who is most famous for his role in the 2015 film Our Times, playing the character Xu Tai Yu. [IMDB]

Megan Lai (Lai Ya Yan | 賴雅妍) plays Ellie. We are more familiar with Megan’s work through the iconic TV Shows Two Fathers and Bromance, one of the reasons we wanted to see this movie. Megan is a Taiwanese actress, singer and model. [IMDB]

Chun Liao (Liao Zi Yuan | 廖峻). I’m not sure of the name of the role he plays, but the owner of a store. He has a long career going back as far as 1979 and has played many roles over the years, he is more familiar to us in the Taiwanese TV Show Two Fathers, he played the stage Dad to Megan Lai. [IMDB]

Review

First off it was so good to seem some familiar faces in this film, playing other characters than we have seen before on the TV screen.

The story was promising, two brothers stuck in the slums trying to make something of themselves. There were some great scenes, even some CGI, but there were also some not so good scenes. The plot was a little confusing at times, maybe parts of it went by too fast to catch what was going on in the storyline.  Maybe the direction could have improved. The action scenes seemed a little far fetched as well as the evil doctor otherwise it could have been a little bit more realistic.

Most of the actors gave a really good performance especially Darren Wang and Megan Lai.

The cinematrography was really good especially the outdoor scenes, some of them did look like a tourist brochure wich was good.

Despite the highs and lows it was a good movie to watch with a mixed ending of happy and sad.

Out of 5:

2021-09-21T02:46:17+00:0026 May 2020|Review Taiwan|

Bromance

Bromance is a television series that was made in Taiwan, broadcast between 18th October 2015 and 21 February 2016. The series consists of 18 episodes with an additional 19th episode summarizing the story with some behind-the-scenes clips. It was made by TTV.

BromanceThe main stars of the show were:

    • Baron Chen
      Lead character Du Zi Feng
    • Megan Lai
      Lead character Pi Ya Nuo
    • Bii
      Lead Character Wei Qing Yang
    • Sean Lee
      Lead Character Chu Zhe Rui
    • Katie Chen
      Lead Character Yang Na Na

A soothsayer advised a family that a female must pretend to be a male until her 26th birthday. Everything seems to go well until she (Pi Ya Nuo) meets Du Zi Feng and falls in love with him. How will he react when she reveals that the man he loves is really a female?

Review

Bromance can be found on Netflix but unfortunately they broke it down into 30 minute episodes. I recommend the original non-edited Taiwanese version of 1 hour 15 minutes each episode. Often Netflix doesn’t get the translations right and will chop it up into chunks that aren’t helpful.

Every now and again there is a TV show that you know will leave a lasting impressions on you. The Taiwanese show Two Fathers was one of them, Bromance is another.

“So Beautiful Is My Life”, a line in the theme song, and the show reflects that statement. It is jolly, positive and bubbly. When there is a lot of negative things happening in the world this is the show to lift your spritis. There is something about the combination of talent they gathered for the show, behind the scenes clips I found on YouTube suggests the cast and crew had a lot of fun with all of them getting on so well.  This attitude spilled over into the program.

It is another Asian crossdressing type of show but addresses same sex relationships in a very positive light, this is typical of how I view Taiwan, very open minded and accepting of people.

There may have been some improvement in the storyline but if you just appreciate the show for what it is, a bubbly adventure on the road to accepting people, I’m sure everyone would enjoy it.

Summary 5/5!

2021-09-21T02:47:33+00:0029 February 2020|Review Taiwan|

Fabulous Boys Review

Fabulous Boys

Fabulous Boys is the Taiwanese version of the Korean TV Show “You’re Beautiful”. This is in the top 3 of all the Asian shows I have seen so far.

Storyline

The story is about the management company of the boyband A.N.JELL insisting on adding a new singer to the group as the lead, Tai Jing, due to problems with his voice. However, the new member, Mei Nan, had to go to the States to repair an eye operation failure just before signing the contract. His agent came up with the idea of having his twin sister, Mei Nu, to stand in for him and pretend that she was her brother. The two of them grew up in an orphanage and Mei Nu, who was all set to become a nun, agreed to this charade as she didn’t want to spoil her brother’s chance of fame which would make it easier to look for their mother.

Actors

Where to Watch

I think there are many online video services you can view this but I watched it on DramaFever which is a great resource of many other Asian shows.

Review (SPOILERS)

I have noticed quite a few, what they call, “gender bender” type shows in the Asian peninsula which I believe allows the producers to address some sexuality issues in a hidden kind of manner. The most interesting part of the show is where Jeremy, one of the band members, fell for Mei Nu suggesting he is gay but upon finding out her real gender, being female, also liked her a lot – this suggested that he is in fact bisexual.  The bisexuality was never addressed head-on but knew that is what the writers were suggesting.

Like some other Taiwanese shows, the script was fluffy, thoughtful, emotional, and hoped for happy ending throughout the series. There weren’t many characters I disliked, all were lovely in their own way with exception to one who turned out to be adorable at the end.  This show also felt emotionally intelligent from the perspective that everyone has feelings, can be hurt and some people are going through issues that other characters would understand but wouldn’t give up on their friends just because they were in a tight spot.

Apart from the actress who played Mei Nu the other three actors that played band members are successful musicians in their own right which made the music sound great too, they released an album to along with the series as they do many Asian dramas. Jiro Wang and Evan Yo were particularly good in their musical roles.

Summary

I will likely re-watch this series at some later date as I enjoyed it so much.

My rating: 5/5

2021-09-21T02:51:19+00:0017 July 2018|Review Taiwan|