Terrorizers

Terrorizers

青春弒戀
(Qing Chun Shi Lian)

Taiwan, 2021, 127’, Mandarin 
Directed by: Ho Wi-ding 
Screenplay: Ho Wi-ding, Natasha Sung
Photography (color): Jean-Louis Vialard 
Editing: Lee Huey, Ho Wi-ding 
Production Design: Hsiao Jen-hsieh
Music: Cheer
Producers: Hu Chih-hsin, Ho Wi-ding, Tina Yin, Dennis Wu, Jennifer Jao
Cast: Austin Lin (Ming-liang), Moon Lee (Yu-fang), Annie Chen (Monica), JC Lin (Xiao Zhang), Yao Ai-ling (Kiki), Ding Ning (Lady Hsiao), Huang Shang-ho (David), Shin (Simon) 

Date of First Release in Territory: November 19th, 2021


Set only years after major political reforms in Taiwan, Edward Yang’s third film The Terrorizers (1986) portrayed obsession and urban malaise in rapidly modernising Taipei. Updating those themes for the digital age, Malaysian-born director Ho Wi-ding sets his sight high by naming his film after Yang’s classic, but the sobering new examination of urban millennials stands on its own thanks to strong performances and an unsettling mood. 
Like Yang’s film, Terrorizers has an ambitious sprawling structure that uses several plotlines to paint an all-encompassing portrait of contemporary Taipei. The film begins with Xiao Zhang (JC Lin), a drifter who has just returned to Taiwan following a stint as a seaman. One day, he meets acting student Yu-fang (Moon Lee) and falls for her instantly. As they prepare to set off on a trip at the train station, Xiao Zhang is slashed by Ming-liang (Austin Lin), a man who is staying with Yu-fang’s family. From there, the film traces the reasons for Ming-liang’s actions through the people he comes across, including former porn performer Monica (Annie Chen), a middle-aged masseuse (Ding Ning) and a young cosplayer (Yao Ai-ling). 
Despite the provocative title and subject matter, Ho takes a measured and patient approach to the disturbing story. The deliberate pace creates a foreboding tone that suggests violence can come at any time. Through Ming-liang’s story, we see a disturbing cautionary tale about the dangerously unrealistic expectations and distorted worldview that digital media creates. Ho doesn’t go as far as outright condemning modern digital media as the root of society’s problems, but it’s telling that the only meaningful romantic relationship in the film is built without the use of any digital device. 
Though it features a large ensemble cast, the creepy atmosphere that the director creates in Terrorizers largely depends on Lin’s menacing interpretation of Ming-liang. While Lin is considerably more low-key than the usual cinematic sociopaths, the actor creates a frightening and unpredictable introvert whose violent side can be unleashed without warning. Nominated for Best New Actor at the Golden Horse Awards, Moon Lee gives an equally fascinating performance as Yu-fang, especially when her friendship with Monica is revealed in the second half of the film. 
Though not explicitly a “pandemic film,” Terrorizers’ message about the dangerous consequences of media overconsumption feels timely considering how much media we relied on during the height of the pandemic. It shows how our limitless obsession with digital media alters the psyche when we’re at our most vulnerable, to the point that it creates a warped and toxic distortion of the world. Unfortunately, Edward Yang did not live to see the rise of the digital age, but Ho’s respectful homage gives a pretty good idea of how the master filmmaker may interpret our world today.   


Ho Wi-ding

Born in Malaysia, Ho Wi-ding studied film at New York University before moving to Taiwan in 2001. After working for several years in commercials and television, Ho made his feature directorial debut with Pinoy Sunday (2010), which won Best New Director at the Golden Horse Awards. Terrorizers (2021) is his fourth feature film.

FILMOGRAPHY

2010 – Pinoy Sunday
2017 – Beautiful Accident 
2018 – Cities of Last Things
2021 – Terrorizers
Kevin Ma
Film director: HO Wi-ding
Year: 2021
Running time: 127'
Country: Taiwan
28/04 - 7:20 PM
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28-04-2022 19:20 28-04-2022 21:27Europe/Rome Terrorizers Far East Film Festival Visionario, Via Asquini 33CEC Udine cec@cecudine.org

Photogallery