Illustration by J-C Suares

The first film in five years from Taiwanese helmer Chang Tso-chi is hardly worth the wait.

The first film in five years from Taiwanese helmer Chang Tso-chi (“Ah Chung,” “The Best of Times”) is hardly worth the wait. Familiar cocktail of gangster characters, a dysfunctional family and general anomie strains for human drama and greater meaning but ends up a well-lensed but overlong auteurist exercise whose audience is solely fest devotees.

Che (Tseng Yi-che) returns to Nanfang’ao fishing port after taking the rap for younger bro Ren’s (Cheng Yu-jen) stabbing of the son of local mobster Shun (Hsu Ling-tsang). Ren is also back from hiding in Japan with their father, Chang (Michio Hayashida), who is due to return to settle a score with Shun. Che spends time with his ex-g.f., Pei (Chen Pei-chun), who’s now mute from some emotional trauma, and tries to connect with his semi-aboriginal roots by visiting his mom’s grave on neighboring Lanyu Island, before violence erupts. Divided into 11 sections by intertitles such as “Silence” and “Searching,” pic is basically a small-time gangster tale gussied up with existential musings. Original title means “Butterflies,” explaining the CG insects’ frequent appearances. Pic was halted for some time when production ran out of money.

Soul of a Demon

Taiwan

Production

A CMC Entertainment, Reel One Pictures presentation of a CTC Film Studio production. (International sales: CMC Entertainment, Taipei.) Produced by Lin Yi-chang, Ma Tai-sheng. Executive producer, Huang Chin-wen. Directed, written by Chang Tso-chi.

Crew

Camera (color), Chang Chen; editor, Chang Tso-chi; music, Thio Hugo-Panduputra; art director, Wu Jo-yun. Reviewed at CinemaxX Potsdamer Platz 2, Berlin, Jan. 24, 2008. (In Berlin Film Festival — Panorama.) Original title: Hudie. Hokkien, Mandarin, Lanyu aboriginal dialogue. Running time: 121 MIN.

With

Tseng Yi-che, Chen Pei-chun, Cheng Yu-jen, Chan Cheng-yun, Tsai Chieh-de, Hsieh Yueh-hsia, Lei Feng, Tsai Tien-hsiung, Chou Yu Wan-mei, Chang Yen-cheng, Michio Hayashida, Hsu Ling-tsang, Wu Hung-en, Huang Tsai-yi, Wang Hsi-jung, Yang Yu-ming, Li Yu-hao.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more