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Archive - 12th Five Flavours Film Festival

The Best of Times

Mei li shi guang
Taiwan, Japan 2002, 112’
subtitles: Polish and English
director: Chang Tso-chi
screenplay: Chang Tso-chi
cinematography: Chang Yi-Min
editing: Liao Ching-Song
music: Thio Hugo-Panduputra (Zhang Yi)
cast: Wing Fan, Kao Meng-Chieh, Tseng Yi-che, Wu Yu-chih, Tsai Ming-shiou
producer: Lu Shih-yuan
executive producer: Makoto Ueda
production: Chang Tso-chi Film Studio, NHK Enterprises 21
source of print: Taiwan Cinema Toolkit
language: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka
colouration: colour

Awards and festivals

IFF Venice 2002 - Golden Lion (nomination); 2002 Golden Horse Film Awards - Best Feature Film, Audience Choice Award, Outstanding Taiwanese Film of the Year; IFF Singapore 2002 - Best Asian Feature, Best Actor

Film description

Hsiao Wei and Ah Chieh are cousins who stick together even though their characters are opposites. They grew up together in a multilingual (Hakka, Hoklo, Mandarin) military dependents’ village in Taipei's northern district near Guandu Wharf. Family situation is difficult, Hsiao Wei's his twin sister suffers from leukemia and Ah Chieh's father, an army veteran from the mainland, is embittered with his life, drinks and gambles all day. A-Chieh is hot-tempered and impulsive, helps out at the local Taoist shrine and he is interested in folk rituals, but has problems with finding a job. Hsiao-Wei on the other hand is sullen and quiet, his role model is Bruce Lee, he often practices with his nunchucks but during the night his part-time job is far cry from Lee's strict ethics as he works at the entrance of the karaoke club run by mafia. Hsiao Wei introduces Ah Chieh to his boss, hoping to get them both better work. They are given a gun and an ungrateful job of a debt collectors. It cannot end well.

Chang Tso-chi auteur style is instantly recognizable, in his films he focuses on the lower and working class, young gangsters, relations with local mafia, the rough realist elements are completed with a fantastical narrative. From the perspective of time, "The Best of Times" is Chang Tso-chi's most representational work. The outstanding visual style and recurring motives give the film a definite shape, magical realism truly grasps the early 2000s feeling, becoming a chronicle of its times and an important part of Taiwan film history. 

Maja Korbecka

Chang Tso-chi

Born in 1961 in Chiayi, central Taiwan. His father was a Chinese civil war veteran, he migrated to Taiwan alongside other nationalist party (KMT) soldiers and married a local Taiwanese girl. Chang Tso-chi first completed a degree in electronic engineering, then pursued his studies at Chinese Culture University's department of theatre and television. He worked as an assistant director in Hong Kong on Yim Ho's and Tsui Hark's productions and in Taiwan on Yu Kan-ping's films and Hou Hsiao-hsien's breakthrough "City of Sadness". Chang Tso-chi's full-feature debut, "Ah Chung", already highlighted his unique auteur style and revolved around topics that will continuously return in his next productions. His films were awarded at many festivals, including Busan, Tokyo, and Singapore. "Thanatos, Drunk" received several awards at the Taipei Film Festival and ten nominations at Taiwan's most prestigious Golden Horse Film Awards.


1996 Ah Chung

1999 Hei an zhi guang / Darkness and Light

2002 Cudowne chwile / Mei li shi guang / The Best of Times

2007 Dusza demona / Hu die / Soul of a Demon

2008 Ba... Ni hao ma? / Dad, how are you?

2010 Dang ai lai de shi hou / When Love Comes

2011 10+10 ("Sparkles")

2013 Shu jia zuo ye / A Time in Quchi

2015 Tanatos pijany / Zui sheng meng si / Thanatos, Drunk

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