×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Taiwan’s offbeat choice for Oscar entry

'Monga' strikes a chord

Named after the oldest (and hippest) district of Taipei, Doze Niu’s “Monga” represents both Taiwan’s past and future.

Past because the film is a compelling period piece, set in the mid-’80s at precisely the moment the country emerged from the shadow of Japanese and Chinese control to assert its own identity; future because its commercial success — almost $10 million to date, topping even “Avatar” in local release — suggests a rally for the country’s long-dormant film biz.

“In recent years, Taiwanese local production has been in the green stage, making only arthouse films,” explains Distribution Workshop CEO Jeffrey Chan, who is handling international sales on “Monga.” “Until last year, with ‘Cape No. 7,’ there had never been a major hit, but that film was only a drama.”

“Monga,” by contrast, is an ambitious, broadly appealing genre pic tracking the rise of a teen gang, featuring Hollywood-caliber production values, an attractive young cast and a number of stunning setpieces. Though it echoes the late Taiwanese master Edward Yang’s critically acclaimed 1960s-era gang study “A Brighter Summer Day,” the 141-minute “Monga” targets popular audiences with its portrayal of rebellious youths who reject the way of both their elders and outsiders from the Mainland in favor of personal independence.

Popular on Variety

“It recalls all the memories of that moment in Taiwan for audiences, and it does so within the mainstream gangster movie,” Chan says.

More from Eye on the Oscar: Foreign Language:
Winners circle back to Hollywood | Rookies of the year | Translate into English? | Taiwan’s offbeat choice for Oscar entry | Japan’s entry is an offbeat choice | Finnish ‘Life’ sets sight on Oscar | The contenders list

More Film

  • Julia Fox Uncut Gems

    Saoirse Ronan, Julia Fox and More Actors Discuss the Women Who Inspired Them

    In her first film role, Julia Fox blazes into “Uncut Gems” as Julia, the ambitious but loyal mistress of Adam Sandler’s jeweler. It’s a complex character the audience can’t always read. To play Julia, Fox says she had a couple inspirations. “My younger self, for sure,” she admits. “Looking at myself retrospectively, how I survived, [...]

  • Disney's MULAN..Mulan (Yifei Liu)..Photo: Film Frame..©

    Mulan Goes to War in Disney‘s Action-Packed Trailer

    Hua Mulan readies to put her life on the line for her community and family in a new trailer for Disney’s live-action “Mulan.” Based on Disney’s 1998 animated classic, “Mulan” tells the story of a woman (portrayed by Yifei Liu) who poses as a man to fight in the Chinese army. The footage, dropped Thursday, [...]

  • My Grandfather's Demons

    Marmita Films Boards Portuguese Feature ‘My Grandfather’s Demons’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    France’s Marmita Films has joined Sardinha em Lata, Caretos Film and Basque Films as a co-producer on the upcoming Portuguese 2D-stop motion hybrid feature “My Grandfather’s Demons.” Having impressed as a project at Seville’s 3D Wire – now Weird Market – where it won the La Liga Feature Project Award, Nuno Beato’s “My Grandfather’s Demons” [...]

  • And Then We Danced Swedish Georgia

    Western Europe Looks for Oscar Glory

    With wins for Mexico, Chile and Iran in the past three years — and South Korea dominating conversation in the international film Oscar race this year — the Academy has been taking some time off from its usual Europhilia in the category. This year, however, a number of standout contenders look to ensure the Continent [...]

  • fotos filmowy Misz Masz - Kogel

    Why Some European Blockbusters Won't Hit U.S. Screens

    It’s become a Bavarian rite of summer. With Germany and the rest of continental Europe swooning through the dog days of August, local audiences flock to the cinema to catch the latest capers of detective Franz Eberhofer, the star of a crime comedy franchise based on a series of best-selling novels. As temperature soar, so [...]

  • Pain and Glory Penelope Cruz

    Oscar's International Film Race Hits Road Bumps

    “I grew up watching foreign-language films,” director Alfonso Cuarón quipped after his “Roma” won the Oscar for foreign-language film last year. “Learning so much from them and being inspired. Films like ‘Citizen Kane,’ ‘Jaws,’ ‘Rashomon,’ ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Breathless.’” For foreign-language committee co-chairs Larry Karaszewski and Diane Weyermann, who had taken over the position that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content