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.

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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


Meniscus Magazine – “Meeting Dr. Sun” – 2015 NYAFF Review

 2015/6/18 | by Rex Baylon











Of all the compliments one can pay to Yee Chih-Yen’s 2014 heist film “Meeting Dr. Sun,” subtly is not one of them. The film is a send-up of the caper genre, complete with an exaggerated plot and character gestures. Yee, however, stops short of a zany Looney Tunes-esque universe, making sure to ground the film in a seemingly mundane setting, a high school in Taipei.

The charming comedy opens with our hero Lefty (Zhan Huai-yun) playing catatonic while one of his classmates presses him to pay his “class fees.” We eventually find out why Lefty can’t pay, but not before Yee follows the opener with a montage of ever-embarrassing situations wherein his classmate publicly harangues Lefty. During one of these dodges, Lefty comes upon a statue, the title’s eponymous Dr. Sun Yat-sen – the founding father of the Republic of China (Taiwan) – and a scheme begins to percolate in the boy’s mind: steal the statue, sell it and live like a king, at least for a few weeks.

Lefty gathers his team, collects the necessary equipment and rehearses his plan. However, without warning, the discovery of a notebook containing a similar written plan to steal the statue throws a wrench into the works. Lefty’s gang doesn’t give up easily and they patiently wait for someone to pick up the carefully planted notebook. Eventually Lefty spots Sky (Wei Han-ting) grabbing it, and a comical cat and mouse game ensues, as Lefty does his best to follow Sky. Yee devotes a good chunk of screen time to a Tom and Jerry game of one-upmanship between the two that leads to a confrontation echoing the meeting between Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino in Heat (1995). Like that iconic meeting, the dialogue between the two comically devolves into a pissing match between which boy is the poorest. You can tell that these two boys will eventually be friends, but for now Sky regards Lefty as an obstacle to his plans. After fooling Lefty into believing that he had turned his former foe into a friend, Sky doesn’t miss a beat and quickly calls his pals to help him rob him of all his equipment. Little do they know that Lefty’s group isn’t down for the count yet.

As in all heist films, the centerpiece is the robbery and nothing ever goes as planned, particularly as several comical obstacles during the heist itself result in the two rivals working together to steal the statue. That said, “Meeting Dr. Sun” is more than just a clever genre exercise. It is a subversive film whose acerbic wit is utilized to illustrate how, if continually ignored and abused, the 99% will rise up and easily steal back what was rightfully taken from them.

“Meeting Dr. Sun” screens at the New York Asian Film Festival on Tues., June 30, at 8:30 p.m. at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.  Director Lee Chih-Yen is scheduled to appear at the screening.  For ticket information, go



Screen Daily – Taiwan’s Ablaze takes ‘Zinnia Flower’, ‘A Fool’

EXCLUSIVE: Taipei-based sales company Ablaze Image has picked up international rights to Tom Lin’s Zinnia Flower and mainland actor Chen Jianbin’s directorial debut A Fool.

Starring Karena Lam and Shih Chin-hang, lead guitarist of Taiwanese rock band Mayday, Zinnia Flower revolves around the friendship between a man and woman whose partners have been killed in the same accident.

Currently in post-production, the film is produced by Taiwan’s Atom Cinema. Lin previously directed award-winning dramas Winds Of September (2008) and Starry Starry Night (2011).

A Fool, which also stars Chen Jianbin, is a comedy drama about a farmer who tries to bribe a local big shot to get his son released from prison.

The film, which also stars Jiang Qinqin and Wang Xuebing, won best new director and best actor at last year’s Golden Horse Awards.

Ablaze Image has also picked up Lee Chung’s action comedy The Laundryman, about a laundry shop that serves as a front for a group of contract killers, which was produced by Lee Lieh and Roger Huang.

Osaka 2015: Taiwan’s MEETING DR. SUN Wins Asian Film Festival Grand Prix

top_logo_sss2015/3/15 | by Christopher O’Keeffe


Meeting Dr. Sun - Osaka 2

Taiwanese film Meeting Dr. Sun proved popular with audiences and jury members alike at Osaka Asian Film Festival, receiving the Audience Award and the festival’s Grand Prix. Director Yee Chih-yen and stars Zhan Huai-yuan and Matthew Wei were present to accept the brace of awards, and the 500,000 yen prize that comes with the festival’s grand prize.

The film follows four boys and their plans to steal an abandoned metal statue from a school storage room in order to sell it to raise money for school fees. The gang encounters trouble when they run into a rival out to claim the statue for himself. A jury consisting of Hong Kong film director Pang Ho Cheung, KoreanActressYoonJin-seo and Japan’sownTakeda Rina, chose the film as the winner.

Also awarded by the Jury, the Most Promising Talent Award went to Thailand’s Mez Tharathorn for his latest romantic comedy I Fine.. Thank You.. Love You. It was the second time on stage for the director having previously accepted an award on behalf of the film’s star Preechaya Pongthananikorn. The actress was the recipient of the newly established Yakushi Pearl Award, which goes to the most brilliant performer amongst the competition films. Actress Charlene Choi was given a special mention for her role in Herman Yau’s sexual-abuse drama Sara.

The Asahi Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC Award for Most Entertaining Film went to Chinese entry The Continent, from director Han Han.



Panorama The 65th Berlinale-Probing The Past To Shape The Future



DEC 16, 2014:

The eleven fictional and eight documentary films selected at this early date already provide a foretaste of the contents and global issues of the forthcoming 36th Panorama programme.

East Asia will again make a strong showing in 2015. Already confirmed are significant works by renowned directors from Taiwan and South Korea. They could be labelled “modern history” or even “national traumas”. With Paradise in Service, director Doze Niu Chen-Zer from Taiwan presents a difficult chapter of East Asian history that has hardly ever been dealt with before: the establishment of brothels to keep up the morale of armed forces in the battle “against Mao”. And with JK Youn’s epic Ode to My Father, South Korea, half of a still divided country, investigates the repercussions of the Korean War and their impact on today.

The USA’s presence will also be felt: After Henry Fool and Fay Grim (Panorama 2007), cult filmmaker Hal Hartley, an iconic figure from the golden days of 1980s US-independent film, has concluded his trilogy with a masterpiece: Ned Rifle. And Justin Kelly provides an unusual directorial debut with I Am Michael, which was co-produced by Gus Van Sant. In it James Franco portrays a gay activist during the so emancipating 1980s, who then tries to turn straight in the 1990s. From the same decade, but set in the 1980s is an example of a filmmaker’s extraordinary perseverance, even though his work was edited beyond recognition by its investors: seventeen years after the premiere of the film 54 about the legendary New York nightclub, Studio 54, director Mark Christopher is presenting his original cut 54 – The Director’s Cut to the public.
Winners of the Panorama Audience Award 2009 were The Yes Men, those satirists, anarchists and pranksters in pursuit of unscrupulous profit mongering. In 2015 they will be back in Berlin for the third time with The Yes Men Are Revolting. They now aim their barbs at the Copenhagen Climate Conference and create havoc for the oil giant Shell.

Raoul Peck will present his latest work in the Panorama: the Haitian-French-Norwegian co-productionMurder in Pacot (screenplay: Pascal Bonitzer). A character piece set outdoors against the catastrophe of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince looks with bitter rage at class distinctions in Haitian society.

One film from Latin America has already been confirmed, a co-production from Uruguay, Chile and Nicaragua: Aldo Garay’s The New Man. Here, too, recent history is explored: in the heat of the battle that Tupamaros and Sandinistas are fighting against the military dictatorships in their respective countries, Roberto, a young boy from Nicaragua, suddenly finds himself with foster parents in Uruguay. When he then decides to change his gender, he is also confronted with the limits of tolerance in leftist society.

Child abuse is the subject in several works, including the aforementioned The New Man, and films from Austria (The Last Summer of the Rich by Peter Kern), Switzerland (Dora or the Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents by Stina Werenfels), Canada (Chorus by Francois Delisle) and the Czech Republic (Daniel’s World by Veronika Liskova). Evidently the time is ripe to broach this difficult topic again and in so doing take even greater risks.

The Norwegian fictional film Out of Nature by Ole Giæver and Marte Vold is a zeitgeisty parable about a man, and his search for identity and joy in life. The young father needs a break from parental bliss: he retreats to the mountains to rethink what he wants from life.

In the Swedish contribution Dyke Hard by Bitte Anderson, all the stops have been pulled on what makes indie cinema so entertaining. A zany, quasi musical of post-punk-lesbo-rock-‘n’-roll calibre: this is underground fun at its purest.

Five other films (besides The New Man, The Yes Men and Daniel’s World) have already been confirmed for Panorama Dokumente:

B-Movie – Lust & Sound in West-Berlin by Jörg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck and Heiko Lange also embraces this rediscovered pleasure in the 1980s: a cornucopia of unbridled creativity spurts from this period in Berlin, which is revealed here to have been a highpoint. Alongside almost forgotten gems are tracks by Gudrun Gut, Blixa Bargeld and Nick Cave, among others.

Scandal at the Zoo Palast: R.W. Fassbinder’s conquest of the Berlinale began with Love Is Colder than Death in the 1969 Competition. In Fassbinder – To Love without Demands, Danish filmmaker Christian Braad Thomsen opens his archive and generously gives us a contemplative afternoon in a hotel room in Cannes with this unendingly inspiring filmmaker.

Kenya is among those African countries where, under the influence of evangelical organisations from the United States, hatred has been ignited against homosexuals. In Stories of Our Lives, Jim Chuchu lets a whole range of brave people talk. Banned in its country of origin, the film also presents pre-Christian rites that respect self-determination much more than society today.

In his 162-minute 3D documentary Iraqi Odyssey, Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker Samir masterly depicts the latest, highly complex history of Iraq as revealed by events in a family.

Last not least, news of a celebration! On February 13, 2014, the Teddy Awards will be presented for the second time at the Komische Oper Berlin. The Special Teddy 2015 will go to Udo Kier. Almost no other actor has crossed, fused, redrawn and extended the many boundaries of cinematic art with such ease.

Please find further Information about the programme from Panorama Head Wieland Speck here, PDF (184 KB).

54: The Director’s Cut
By Mark Christopher
With Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Mike Myers, Sela Ward, Mark Ruffalo
World premiere

By François Delisle
With Sébastien Ricard, Fanny Mallette, Pierre Curzi, Geneviève Bujold
European premiere

Der letzte Sommer der Reichen (The Last Summer of the Rich)
By Peter Kern
With Amira Casar, Nicole Gerdon, Winfried Glatzeder
World premiere

Dora oder Die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern (Dora or The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents)
Switzerland / Germany
By Stina Werenfels
With Victoria Schulz, Jenny Schily, Lars Eidinger, Urs Jucker
International premiere

Dyke Hard
By Bitte Andersson
With Alle Eriksson, Peggy Sands, M. Wågensjö, Iki Gonzales Magnusson, Lina Kurttila
International premiere

Gukje Shijang (Ode to My Father)
Republic of Korea
By JK Youn
with Hwang Jung-min, Kim Yunjin
International premiere

I Am Michael
By Justin Kelly
With James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts
International premiere

Jun Zhong Le Yuan (Paradise in Service)
By Doze Niu Chen-Zer
With Ethan Juan, Wan Qian, Chen Jianbin, Chen Yi-Han
European premiere

Meurtre à Pacot (Murder in Pacot)
France / Haiti / Norway
By Raoul Peck
With Alex Descas, Ayo, Thibault Vinçon, Lovely Kermonde Fifi, Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin
European premiere

Mot Naturen (Out of Nature)
By Ole Giæver, Marte Vold
With Ole Giæver, Marte Magnusdotter Solem, Rebekka Nystadbakk, Ellen Birgitte Winther, Sievert Giaever Solem
European premiere

Ned Rifle (Ned Rifle)
By Hal Hartley
With Liam Aiken, Martin Donovan, Aubrey Plaza, Parkey Posey, Thomas Jay Ryan
European premiere
Panorama Dokumente

B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin
By Jörg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck, Heiko Lange
With Mark Reeder, Marius Weber
World premiere

Danieluv svet (Daniel’s World)
Czeck Republic
By Veronika Liskova
International premiere

El hombre nuevo (The New Man)
Uruguay / Chile / Nicaragua
By Aldo Garay
World premiere

Fassbinder – lieben ohne zu fordern (Fassbinder – To Love without Demands)
By Christian Braad Thomsen
With Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Irm Hermann, Harry Baer, Lilo Pempeit
World premiere

Iraqi Odyssey
By Samir
European premiere

Stories of Our Lives
Kenya / South Africa
By Jim Chuchu
With Kelly Gichohi, Paul Ogola, Tim Mutungi, Mugambi Nthinga, Rose Njenga
European premiere

The Yes Men Are Revolting
By Laura Nix, Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno
European premiere
Press Office
December 16, 2014