Screen Daily – Taiwan’s Ablaze Image take ‘Father To Son’

Taiwan’s Ablaze Image take ‘Father To Son’


17 May, 2017 | By Liz Shackleton

EXCLUSIVE: Project stars Michael JQ Huang, Chuang Kai-Hsun and Aria Wang.

Taiwan’s Ablaze Image has picked up international right to Hsiao Ya-chuan’s Father To Son, produced by Hou Hsiao-hsien.

Both filmmakers have a long association with Cannes – Hsiao’s Mirror Image was selected for Director’s Fortnight in 2001, while Hou won best director at Cannes in 2015 for The Assassin.

Hsiao’s Father To Son follows two journeys of self-reconciliation – a 60-year-old man with a serious illness travels to Japan to search for the father who abandoned him 50 years ago, accompanied by his son, while a young man connected to his past arrives in Taiwan.

Currently in post-production for release in autumn 2017, the film stars Michael JQ Huang, Chuang Kai-Hsun, Aria Wang and Lu Hsueh-Feng.

Hsiao’s more recent credits include Taipei Exchanges, which won an audience award at Taipei Film Festival in 2010, and a segment of omnibus film 10+10.

Ablaze Image is also selling Chen Yu-hsun’s period comedy The Village Of No Return, which was released in Taiwan and China over Chinese New Year.


The Hollywood Reporter-“White Ant” review


11:03 AM PDT 10/14/2016 by Elizabeth Kerr


Wu Kang-Jen and Yu Tai-Yan headline ‘An Exposure of Affected Hospital’ director Chu Hsien-Che’s first foray into narrative.


White Ant 12A young man with a fetish for women’s underwear becomes a target for harassment, which is just the tip of the iceberg in Taiwanese documentarian Chu Hsien-Che’s thematically sprawling debut feature, White Ant. Facile pop psychology aside, it would come as no surprise if Chu’s New Currents entry at this year’s Busan International Film Festival emerged as the frontrunner in the fest’s primary competition. Carefully modulated and wisely attuned to its strongest elements (Wu Kang Jen’s brave first-act performance and the bond between two mourning women in the third), White Ant is evidence of Chu’s doc background, both in style and substance. White Ant has enough low-key star power in Wu and veteran performer Yu Tai-Yan to give it art house buoyancy in Asia-Pacific, and it’s a shoe-in for festivals outside the region.

In the middle of the night in a quiet corner of Taipei, bookstore worker Bai Yide (Wu, Taipei 24h) stops in the courtyard of a nondescript apartment block. A set of women’s underwear hanging in a window has caught his attention, and he is compelled to steal it. He goes home, masturbates and then lovingly stores the set away with dozens of others he has neatly tucked under his bed. A few days later, a DVD lands in his mailbox: Someone has caught him swiping the underwear and recorded it. Knowing his secret has been discovered is a source of ceaseless anxiety for the fragile Yide, who grows more distant and distracted each passing day.

Elsewhere, the university student who shot the video, Tang Junhong (Aviis Zhong), harbors no remorse over what she’s done. She refers to Yide as a thief and a pervert, stalks him at work and drops off multiple copies of the DVD to prove her point and exert a little power over the anxious young man. Her friends urge her to either leave him alone or call the police, suggestions that come too late to prevent catastrophe.

Structured almost like a two-act play, what starts as an examination of fetishism as a source of shame and isolation morphs into an examination of guilt and catharsis when Junhong insinuates herself into Lan Tangyuan’s (singer-actress Yu, Yang Yang) life. She is Yide’s mother, and Junhong is eager to find out if she had any influence on Yide’s fate, and if there’s anything she can do to make things right.

Writer-director Chu does an admirable job of toggling back and forth between past and present, and giving all three characters and both storylines room to breathe. Junhong’s growing fear that she is responsible for Yide’s end weighs on her almost as much as his belief his “sickness” would drive him even further onto the periphery of society. Both young actors deliver nuanced performances that swing between heartbreaking and infuriating without tipping into histrionics. Wu, all bone and tightly wound sinew, is the surprise, as his previous work has been good but not remarkable. Yu has the thankless role of the self-flagellating mother, but makes the most of her quiet moments with Zhong as they find a way to heal.

White Ant has its flaws. Yide’s emotional and psychological issues are the result of the childhood trauma of accidentally seeing his mother having sex (yes, another dangerous and damaging mother with a sex drive), and Junhong’s final breakdown stretches out past the point of moving into awkward. But Chu’s direction has an immersive quality to it that gives the characters texture and binds them in shared, unspoken fears, and Chu packs each frame with countless details that make Yide, Junhong and Lan’s space as physically oppressive as each perceives it to be.

Venue: Busan International Film Festival
Production companies: Big Houses Film Production, Content Digital Film Co.
Cast: Wu Kang-Jen, Aviis Zhong, Yu Tai-Yan, Alina, Hu Wei-Jie
Director-screenwriter: Chu Hsien-Che
Producer: Mark Chen
Executive producer: Lai Ming-Hsiu, Kao Chun-Ting
Director of photography: Lei Heng
Production designer: Cheng I-Feng
Editor: Cheng Hsiao-Dong
Music: Wu Chia-Feng
World sales: Ablaze Image

In Mandarin

No rating, 95 minutes

Screen Daily – Taiwan’s Ablaze launches Chen Yu-Hsun’s ‘The Village That Forgets’


13 March, 2016 | By Silvia Wong












Taiwan sales outfit Ablaze Image is launching martial arts comedy The Village That Forgets at Filmart.

Starring Shu Qi and Joseph Chang, the film directed by Chen Yu-Hsun revolves around a mysterious event in a rural village by the end of the Qing dynasty. The cast also includes Wang Qianyuan, Eric Tsang, Tony Yang and Lin Mei-Hsiu.

The $9m feature, set for release around Chinese New Year 2017, reunites director Chen with producers Lee Lieh and Yeh Jufeng and Warner Bros (Taiwan), following their breakout hit Zone Pro Site.

A total of seven investors are aboard the project, including Lee’s One Production Film, Wanda Pictures from China and Warner Bros (Taiwan).

Ablaze has also picked up international rights to Kuo Cheng-Chui’s first feature, Foret Debussy, which stars Gwei Lun-Mei and Lu Yi-Ching as a daughter and mother who hide themselves in the deep forest to shun their painful past from the urban life.

Variety – FilMart: Wanda, Warner on Board Ablaze Image’s ‘Village That Forgets’














MARCH 13, 2016 | 03:59PM PT

Patrick Frater
Asia Bureau Chief

Independent Taipei-based sales agency, Ablaze Image is handling “The Village That Forgets,” a Taiwanese martial arts comedy that includes China’s Wanda Pictures and Warner Bros. (F.E), the Taiwanese unit of Warner, among its investors.

Albaze will fire up international sales on the picture at this week’s FilMart in Hong Kong. It is also unveiling “Foret Debussy” a dark drama starring Gwei Lun-mei.

“Village” is directed by successful Chen Yu-Hsun (“Zone Pro Site: The Movable Feast,” “Tropical Fish”) and is the story of a mysterious event happening in a rural village by the end of the Qing Dynasty.

The film stars Shu Qi (“The Assassin,” “Mojin: The Lost Legend”), Wang Qianyuan (“Saving Mr. Wu”), Hong Kong’s Eric Tsang (“Monster Hunt,” “From Vegas to Macau II”), Chang Hsiao-Chuan, Tony Yang and Lin Mei-Hsiu. It also reunites producers Lee Lieh (“Meeting Dr. Sun”) and Yeh Jufeng (“Our Times”), who previously delivered hit “Zone Pro Site.”

“Village” has a budget of $9 million, which is co-financed by seven investors including its production company One Production Film Co. The film is scheduled to be released during Chinese New Year in 2017.

“Debussy” is the first feature of Kuo Cheng-Chui and is produced by Aileen Li (“When A Wolf Falls In Love With A Sheep”) and Steven Tu (“The Forth Portrait”), through Filmagic Pictures Co. and You Love Agent & PR Executive.

As well as “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” star Gwei, “Debussy” also stars Lu Yi-Ching (“Stray Dogs,” “The Wayward Cloud”.) The story sees a mother and daughter hide themselves deep in a forest, in an attempt to escape the troubles of urban civilization. But it turns out that they cannot escape themselves.

FilMart: Wanda, Warner on Board Ablaze Image’s ‘Village That Forgets’

Screen Daily – Taiwan’s Ablaze takes ‘Le Moulin’ rights


13 February, 2016 | By Liz Shackleton


EXCLUSIVE: Huang Ya-li’s documentary screened at the recent International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Taiwan’s Ablaze Image has picked up international rights to Huang Ya-li’s documentary Le Moulin, which recently screened in the Bright Future section of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

The film explores the Le Moulin Poetry Society, which emerged in Taiwan in the 1930s when the country was under Japanese colonial rule. Influenced by France and the Surrealists, the group protested against the cultural imperialism of their colonial rulers.

Produced by Taipei-based Roots Films, the film won positive reviews at both CPH:DOX last year and Rotterdam this year, highlighting the current strength of Taiwanese documentary filmmaking. Ablaze Image is also selling Singing Chen’s The Walkers about Taiwan’s Legend Lin Dance Theatre.

Variety – Berlin: Ablaze Pulls Ahead With ‘The Tag Along’




Berlin: Ablaze Pulls Ahead With ‘The Tag Along’

The Tag-Along_Still3











FEBRUARY 11, 2016 | 07:00PM PT

Patrick Frater
Asia Bureau Chief

Ablaze Image has picked up sales rights to “The Tag Along,” a Taiwanese horror thriller that will screen in Berlin’s European Film Market.

Based on an urban legend about the girl in red, the story follows mysterious disappearances and equally mysterious reappearances by a woman and her grandson.

The film is directed by Cheng Wei-hao and has a cast including River Huang, Hsu Wei-Ning and Yumi Wong.

Representative of a new generation of more commercial filmmaking in Taiwan, “Tag Along” was released theatrically in Taiwan in November last year, in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in January.

Ablaze was formed three years ago by former Edko Films executive June Wu to handle Taiwanese cinema’s outreach.

The company has contributed to building the territory’s younger generation of stars, including Eddie Peng (in Ablaze’s “The Last Women Standing”) and Mark Chao (in Ablaze’s “Black And White: The Dawn of Justice”). Its lineup also includes a primer on the Taiwan ‘new wave,’ “Flowers of Taipei: Taiwan New Cinema.”

Ablaze is also representing recent festival favorites “Zinnia Flower,” directed by Tom Lin, and Chen Jianbin’s “A Fool.”

Berlin: Ablaze Pulls Ahead With ‘The Tag Along’


The Hollywood Reporter-“The Laundryman” review


11:47 AM PDT 7/20/2015 by Clarence Tsui

Taiwanese filmmaker Lee Chung’s feature-length debut revolves around a hitman stumbling upon his origins.

DSCF0347(small)Starting off as a horror comedy and concluding with a hard-knuckle free-for-all, Taiwanese filmmakerLee Chung‘s first fictional feature is as diverse in its narrative tropes as it is in its list of backers: among his presenters are the Taiwanese behemoth Central Motion Pictures Corporation, Wong Kar-wai‘s Jet Tone Films and Warner Bros.’ Far East branch. While The Laundryman does boast a few twists and turns that don’t add up, the film still works as a knowing and entertaining genre blender, its relentlessly manic energy propped up by its stars — some of them cast remarkably against type — and throbbing imagery.

With its paranormal take on the distracted-hitman template — a subgenre that has spawned films such as The Professional andFallen Angels, both of which are referenced here — The Laundryman should prove sufficiently appealing for the more populist end of the festival-circuit spectrum. Bowing at the Taipei Film Festival last week before making its international premiere Sunday at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, the film indeed should kick off a sustained itinerary through festivals in the fall. Meanwhile, a niche release in North American markets is certainly possible.

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One of The Laundryman‘s major calling cards is lead actorJoseph Chang, who plays the nameless assassin whose beefcake appearance belies a troubled soul, his sanity put to the test as he finds himself plagued day and night by ghosts of his victims. Cashing in on the actor’s pedigree as a metrosexual icon — he sprang to fame in 2006 as a closeted high-school student’s love object inEternal Summer, while his most acclaimed performance to date is that of an emotionally suppressed gay man in Yang Ya-che‘s GF*BF (2012) — Lee introduces Chang making a hit while dressed up as a woman. From there, comedy and action ensue, delivering on The Laundryman‘s objective in playing with both genre conventions and the cast’s entrenched public personas.

Chang showcases nuanced acting chops beneath all that muscle, contributing to the film’s subversion of gender stereotypes: while Chang’s contract killer has his fears laid bare, the female characters come off as tough as nails.

The hitman’s boss, Ah Gu (Sui Tang, Women Who Flirt), is a frosty temptress who conceals her line of work behind the veneer of a high-class laundry. Lin (Wan Qian, Paradise in Service), the psychic to whom the haunted hitman turns for help, is a cynic who transforms from a petite ditz to a possessed fiend as she becomes the vessel through which ghosts articulate their feelings and frustrations. And then there’s Yang (Yeo Yann Yann, Ilo Ilo), a snarky police detective, who disparages the efforts of her soon-to-retire colleague Tang (Tsai Ming-hsiu) in probing the trail of death and destruction brought about by the assassin and the avenging apparitions of his victims.

Read More Screen Industry Contributes $5.5 Billion to Taiwan’s Economy, Study Says

The presence of these three women, each representing a certain archetypal character of a traditional film genre, symbolizes the warring stylistic tones within The Laundryman. The way Ah Gu keeps the hitman in check — through her physical allure, as well as the pancakes she feeds him regularly — suggests murderous intrigue worthy of a suspense thriller. The elfin psychic sidekick of Lin — a cross between Natalie Portman‘s Mathilda in The Professional, Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s ghost whisperer and any of the wig-wearing eccentrics in Wong Kar-wai’s films — is the embodiment of comedy and drama, as she exposes the hitman to the ludicrousness of his job and the human stories of people he previously regarded only as his marks.

While her part is smaller than that of the others, Yeo’s Yang plays a significant role as her investigation of the killings will eventually lead to The Laundryman‘s climax. Yang Kil-yong‘s and Seo Seong-ok‘s sharply choreographed fights also come just in time to distract viewers from dwelling on the holes in the plot, as all is revealed about the origins of Ah Gu’s murderous network of assassins and the lead character’s place in it. Then again, The Laundryman works more as a visceral spectacle, with cinematographer-editor Yao Hung-i (a longtime member of Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s creative team) and production designer Wang Chih-chien keeping the film’s jumping tenors in check with adequate choices in lighting, backdrops and cuts. The color might bleed in the long run, but The Laundryman is a shrink-wrapped piece of genre-hopping entertainment.

Venue: Taipei Film Festival (Taipei Film Awards); Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (Bucheon Choice); Locarno Film Festival (Piazza Grande)

Production companies: 1 Production Film Company, co-presented by China Motion Pictures Corporation, Jet Tone Films, Lucky Royal, Warner Bros (F.E.)

Cast: Joseph Chang, Sui Tang, Wan Qian, Yeo Yann Yann

Director: Lee Chung

Screenwriters: Lee Chung, Chen Yu-hsun

Producers: Chang Ya-ting

Executive producer: Lee Lieh, Roger Huang

Director of photography: Yao Hung-i

Art director: Wang Chih-chien

Costume designer: Hsu Li-wen

Editors: Yao Hong-i, Yang Wei-hsin, Chiang Yi-ming, Shieh Meng-ju

Casting Director: Finn Wu

Music: Wen Tzu-chieh

Action directors: Yang Kil-yong, Seo Seong-ok

International Sales: Ablaze Image

In Mandarin and Taiwanese


No rating; 110 minutes