films seen
average score
Taiwan - 43 years old
Alive and kicking
more info


Eternal Summer

Sheng Xia Guang Nian
2006 / 93m - Taiwan
Drama, Romance
Eternal Summer poster

After only two films Chen is well on his way to become a personal favorite. He has a keen eye and is quite versatile.

Home Sweet Home

Mi Mi Fang Ke
2021 / 110m - China
Mystery, Thriller
Home Sweet Home poster

Leste Chen's latest is a neat little mystery/thriller. A film with a pretty farfetched story, with enough twists and turns to upheave the entire first half. Certainly not something everyone is going to appreciate, but proper production values and Chen's delicate direction buy Home Sweet Home a lot of credit.

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The Wangs are a tight-knit, though somewhat odd family. When Mr. Wang takes in a shook up bus driver, who is related to a fateful car accident that killed all the kids in Wang's son's class, tension rises between the family members. Slowly the driver starts to remember the details of the accident, revealing more secrets than he was prepared for.

While the premise is clear from the start, Chen isn't too eager to reveal where the film will go from there. The mystery is upheld until very late into the film, a big plus in my book, but some might up feeling a little lost. Good performances, clean styling and a fun finale should make up for that. A more than solid mystery.

Upcoming Summer

Sheng Xia Wei Lai
2021 / 115m - China
Upcoming Summer poster

A fine Chinese romance by Leste Chen. That's not a big surprise, he has proven before that he can handle the genre. The EDM festival setting is relatively novel and adds a bit of extra flair, but it's not quite enough to set the film apart from so many similar films. If you're craving Asian teen romance, it's certainly not a bad bet though.

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Chen messes up her exam after discovering her parents are close to divorcing each other. She doesn't dare to come clean with them and makes up an excuse about a break-up with her non-existent boyfriend. Things get complicated when the story spreads and the guy is publicly confronted about a relationship he never had.

The performances are solid, the cinematography is slick and atmospheric, but the music is a tad too cheesy and the EDM pretty commercial. The romance is rather predictable too and two hours is a bit much for a film that offers nothing new. That said, as prime genre filler, Upcoming Summer definitely delivers.

Battle of Memories

Ji Yi Da Shi
2017 / 119m - China
Sci-fi, Fantasy, Mystery
Battle of Memories poster

The Great Hypnotist

Cui Mian Da Shi
2014 / 104m - China
Mystery, Thriller
The Great Hypnotist poster

The Heirloom

Zhai Bian
2005 / 97m - Taiwan
Horror, Mystery
The Heirloom poster

Leste Chen takes a swing at the horror genre. Not too surprising, considering the Asian horror boom of the 00s, or the fact that horror cinema is an ideal platform for young directors who want to make a new for themselves. I really liked The Heirloom the first time I watched it, almost two decades later though, the film has some trouble setting itself apart from its peers.

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James inherits the family house, after a big tragedy happened there 20 years earlier. He moves in with his girlfriend, but soon after strange things start happening to James and his friends. His girlfriend is certain the house is to blame, so they start delving into James' family history.

The muted color palette, snappy editing and stylish score form a solid foundation for a moody horror film. It should be no surprise that Chen mixes in mystery and drama elements too, a staple for Asian horror cinema. There's just not quite enough here to turn it into something unique. Not quite tense enough, not visually distinctive enough, not surprising enough. It's still a very solid film though, just no masterpiece.

101 Proposals

101 Ci Qiu Hun
2013 / 120m - China
101 Proposals poster

20, Once Again

Chong Fan 20 Sui
2015 / 131m - China
Comedy, Fantasy
20, Once Again poster