films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


The Wheel of Life

Da Lunhui
1983 / 104m - Taiwan
Drama, Romance - Anthology
The Wheel of Life poster

Interesting film by King Hu and two other compatriots. The setup is pretty identical to Hou's Three Times, the only real difference is that each short is handled by a different director. That makes it a little more varied, while also a little less coherent. Neither the cast nor the directors manage to best Tsai's masterpiece though.

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Hu handles the Ming Dynasty entry, a martial arts tale about a rebel trying to outwit the secret police. Hsing follows up with a story about an art troupe struggling to make ends meet, while Pai tells the tale of a shaman trying to secure the wealth and fortune of a fisherman's village.

Hu's entry is by far the most accomplished of the three. The other two are decent too, but they're clearly handled by less talented- directors. I'm not quite sure if the setup made a lot of sense or added something of value, but it's fun to see the three leads returning in very different stories. A solid film.

Execution in Autumn

Qiu Jue
1972 / 99m - Taiwan
Execution in Autumn poster

A classic Taiwanese drama. Like Hong Kong, Taiwan used to a be a nation specialized in genre cinema. It's not that there weren't any dramas being made, but the lack of subtlety made them into an acquired taste and difficult to export. A film like Execution is Autumn is a pretty good example of this.

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Pei Gang has been sentenced to death for murdering three people. He claims lawful self-defense, but his pleas are ignored, and his sentence will be carried out. Pei Gang's grandma is a respected villager and she tried to overturn the verdict. She buys her grandson another year, which becomes his deadline to try and get out of his thorny situation.

The performances are decent, but not very spectacular. The cinematography is rather basic and the drama quite slow. It's the music that is extremely overdone and makes this film overly sentimental. It becomes difficult to care for the characters and since that's really all there is to this film, it's not a big success.

Beautiful Duckling

Yang Ya Ren Jia
1965 / 111m - Taiwan
Beautiful Duckling poster

Chinese classic that offers little more than a long-winded narrative. Stylistically there's absolutely nothing happening, the actors are loud and obnoxious and the plot is hardly worth a second glance. It's mind-boggling how they managed to get 120 minutes of material out of it.