Taiwanese actor Doze Niu tells the semi-autobiographical story of a group of adolescent hoodlums from the historical district of Monga in Taipei, who join a gang because they were tired of being bullied around. Though it’s not perfect, the plot came out of Niu’s thinking direction makes it more reasonable than any other new Taiwanese films. There are quite a few fight scenes, some of which are quite violent. However, the real focus is on the relationships between the gang members. The first half of the film puts the spotlight on the shenanigans of this youthful group as they go around squandering their lives away from school, and into fights.
But there are several problems that I’ve seen with this film. Director Doze Niu praises the friendship of the five young men and puts the bad activity in a somewhat positive light. Also, Monga is too clean and nice in the movie. In reality many parts of Monga is a seedy place with many sketchy people and teenagers. As the young men enjoy their newfound status as gangsters in Monga, they have no idea that other gangs have also set their eyes on this prosperous area. Overall, it is a good film in which the director chose am attractive theme and added an air of nostalgia by using yellow and a bit of green as the main colors for the film.
Selected to represent Taiwan at this year’s Oscars, Doze Niu’s Monga was quite long actually and it was filmed and edited to show the public almost every detail of lives of Taiwanese youngsters back in those days. he film also offers a glimpse at a corner of our world we rarely get to see on the big screen. Monga delves deep into what it was like in the 80′s as a gangster and therefore shows a bit of a darker side of life. They never have gangster life, they just through the brotherhood to burning their life. This is the confusion of puberty and the pressure of real life to give a special significance. Much of this evolution takes place while the bonds that develop among the youths deepen.
The Blu-ray disc reviewed, courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors MegaStar, looks and sounds very good. Movies often end in a happily-ever-after manner but this ain’t that kinda movie. Monga sputters a bit when it enters its third act but in the end, it all comes down to the characters trying to balance the harsh realities of a violent gangster life with the honor of friendship and brotherhood. I have no idea when the film will be hitting the U.S., but it has a promising future as it’s totally something fresh out of the Taiwanese film industry. With a stellar cast and entertaining storyline that weaves together action and drama, the film should do well with younger audience members who like to view the underworld through rose-tinted glasses.