Taiwanese Season

Taiwan might be small but some big filmmakers and films come just from there. And they deserve some nice attention. During September and October, we would like to introduce 11 films crossing times as well as genres. You know, just your regular wuxia, romance, social critique exploitation and Zen.

In September, get ready for some lost cases in The Great Buddha+ (2017) or Eighteen (1993), larger than life heroes in The Fantasy of the Deer Warrior (1961) and The Swordsman of All Swordsmen (1968) and to not that usual romantic heroines presented by timeless Brigitte Lin and Shu Qi in Cloud of Romance (1977) and Millennium Mambo (2001).

October brings in a tougher anti-occupation game with The Best Secret Agent (1963), show the ties between social justice, female body and revenge in On the Society File of Shanghai (1981) and The Challenge of the Lady Ninja (1982), to lend you some Zen in serenely beautiful The Assassin (2015) and masterpiece A Touch of Zen (1971).

Our gratitude belongs to 國家電影中心 Taiwan Film Institute, Ministry of Culture of ROC, Taiwan Cinema Toolkit and Taipei Representative Office, Bratislava, without whom there would be no Taiwanese Season.

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On the Society Files of Shanghai

Shanghai shehui dang'an; Wang Chu-Chin, 1981, OV (mandarín.) + AT, Taiwanská sezóna; Wang Chu-Chin, 1981, versions: ES

In Shanghai, Hai-Nan, son of a Chinese official, is found stabbed on the street. But when the culprit, Li-Fang, is apprehended, she refuses to reveal her motives. Meanwhile, a police officer grows suspicious of the officials’ rush to close the case. As he searches for leads in the case files, a shocking truth about Li-Fang is revealed. Adapted from the “scar literature” of Mainland China, this anti- communist film uses a woman’s drastic change in personality after she is raped as an allusion to the Mainland’s political corruption. The film is an important addition to the s. c. Black Movies or Social-Realist Movies that became popular through 1979-1983. Show more

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The Challange of the Lady Ninja

Nü renzhi (Lang nushen long jian); Lee Tso-Nam, 1982, OV (mandarín.) + AT, Taiwanská sezóna; Lee Tso-Nam, 1982, versions: ES

A martial arts sexploitation film wrapped in revenge and patriotism, The Challenge of the Lady Ninja’s story takes place in an imaginary world that uses China during WWII as its backdrop. The film was a commercial success for its fast-food-style fighting sequences and erotic elements, especially of the main heroine, the alluring warrior in hot red ninja garb, who also has the special skill set of spinning out of her clothes and fighting in her bikini when battling fearsome opponents. During the Japanese occupation of China, Xiao-Hui receives training in the martial art of ninjutsu in Japan, and becomes the first Chinese lady ninja. When she learns of her father’s death, she returns to Shanghai and discovers that her fiancé, Li Tong, has betrayed her and the country. To take revenge, Xiao-Hui gathers a group of female warriors to kill Tong. However, Tong’s real role in the whole scheme is yet to be revealed… Show more

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The Assassin

Nie yin niang; Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2015, OV (mandarín.) + ST (cz); Siao-sien Chou, 2015, versions: CS

9th century China. 10-year-old general’s daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who initiates her into the martial arts, transforming her into an exceptional assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt local governors. One day, she is sent back to the land of her birth with orders to kill the man to whom she was once promised – a cousin who now leads the largest military region in north China. After 13 years of exile, she must confront her parents, her memories and her long-repressed feelings. Nie Yin- niang must choose: sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins. A slow burner narrated in stunning images and looks of Shu Qi and Chang Cheh, The Assassin is in no wan an action extravaganza with flying masters of secret arts. Show more

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A Touch of Zen

Xia nü; King Hu, 1971, OV (mandarín.), AT + eST, Taiwanská ; King Hu, 1971, versions: SS

Zen must be understood not through verbal explanation, but through an enlightening experience. That is an idea that starches through the story of three fugitives, a scholar and two martial artists falsely accused of crime by an evil Eunuch. A Touch of Zen might not be the first or ground breaking within the wuxia genre nor filmography of its director King Hu, but is definitely is a most special one. If the many talents of wuxia heroes make them legends, A Touch of Zen is a kind of a legend of the legends. Not only its story carries several ideological layers, it is one of the most beautiful films made so far. The way King Hu works with the camera and employs the editing became a source of inspiration and school for masters of Hong Kong action cinema (Tsui Hark, John Woo), it is to be seen in modern wuxia films of Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of the Flying Daggers), of masterful Hidden Tiger Crouching Dragon by Ang Lee; and it doesn`t stop there – just watch the films of Ann Hui or Hou Hsiao-Hsien (n.b. Assassin) carefully. Show more

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