After spending much of the decade making films about Taiwan’s complex and troubled history, Hou Hsiao Hsien turns his attention to its money-obsessed present with this gangster drama. Tattooed mobster, Kao , and his quick-tempered, aptly named protégé, Flathead, along with their girlfriends, Ying and Pretzel, are desperately trying to make it big. Their master plan is open a disco in Shanghai, but that scheme seems less and less likely with each call they get from their cell phone. Corrupt mainland potentates want a king’s ransom in kickbacks while Pretzel racked up a king’s ransom of debt herself at the mahjong table, prompting her to make a half-hearted suicide attempt. To make ends meet, these would-be entrepreneurs make a stab at swindling the government over swine — selling sows when they are supposed to be the more valuable studs. They wine and dine the farmers in rural backwater Chiayi only to get cut out of the deal and kidnapped by the corrupt police. This film was dubbed of the ten best films of the 1990s by numerous critics, including Susan Sontag.
Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou | Starring : Jack Kao, Kuei-Ying Hsu, Giong Lim, Annie Shizuka Inoh, Hsiang Hsi | Presented at Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Chicago Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Singapore Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival