This ode to the 1990s Taiwan band scene succeeds in paying its respects and evoking the memories of people who were young and wild back then — but unfortunately, that’s about all it does.
As its title (especially in Chinese, which treats it like a crime) suggests, Killed by Rock and Roll (搖滾樂殺人事件) is supposed to be a rock and roll story with a murder mystery twist. The opening scene with a maggot-infested body found in the woods alludes to a dark, potentially gruesome tale, with the dead rock musician’s daughter Wawa (Yao Ai-ning, 姚愛?) trying to solve the crime while uncovering her father’s chaotic past. It appears that there are two mysteries — Wawa’s father Moxina, played by renowned rock band FireEx (滅火器) frontman Sam Yang (楊大正), was not only found dead, it’s quickly revealed through casual conversation that he was also a convicted murderer.
The production team suggests it’s a story made by rock stars for rock fans — the producer is Lin Ta-chun (林大鈞) of veteran rock outfit The Chairman (董事長樂團) and the actors are mostly real-life rock musicians except for the dashing lead singer Xiaosi, who is played by heartthrob Edison Song (宋柏緯).
photo courtesy of shine time
But those hoping for an edgy tale are quickly let down as the bulk of the screen time is dedicated to telling an overly-sappy, unoriginal rapid rise-and-fall rock band story of chasing one’s dreams and the trials and tribulations that a bunch of misfits go through while railing against societal norms.
The audience is transported back to 1998 as the film focuses on Moxina, predictably a teenage rebel who makes his appearance on the run from school officials after spray painting the words “dictator” on a Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) statue.
His band members are recruited, predictably, after a bar fight, and they go through very stereotypical rockstar shenanigans such as partying, having run-ins with the police and arguments with the record company over creative freedom — this is already territory that’s been covered on big screens countless times.
photo courtesy of shine time
It even perpetuates a trite and exhausted bad boy image of rock musicians — tattooed, chain-smoking, alcohol-and-drug downing, hot-tempered and prone to incessant cursing and ready to smash things up when needed with no regard for social etiquette. Their practice rooms and living quarters and complete messes, and so are their personal lives.
While there is truth in all stereotypes, and this kind of character can be portrayed in a meaningful way, such as in Trainspotting — which director Tommy Yu (游智煒) has compared the film to — there’s nothing philosophical or thought-provoking about the characters’ rebellious behavior here, with the film mostly relying on melodrama and nostalgia. Eventually it gets tiring.
The melodrama doesn’t really work here either, in fact, as previews of the film promise a love triangle — which is really overstating things as it has little effect on the outcome of events.
The center of the conflict, Moxina’s girlfriend Alice (Zaizai Lin, 林辰唏) actually is the most intriguing character as she transforms from the girl next door to black-clad rock chick after meeting the band, and also plays a crucial role in present-day events — which cannot be discussed without spoiling the plot. Lin does a pretty solid job, but her character could have been featured more as the key to resolving the myriad of plot holes, saving the audience a lot of head-scratching.
As the movie goes on, it’s clear that the murder element is just a gimmick to add intrigue to quite an ordinary tale, and the mystery is left largely unexplored and unresolved as the film ends rather abruptly. It’s understandable that a mainstream film has to be somewhat commercial, but the irony is that the movie is about nonconformist rock and roll rebels — yet the results are so tame and conventional.
Killed by Rock and Roll (搖滾樂殺人事件)
Directed By:Tommy Yu (游智煒)
Starring: Sam Yang (楊大正) as Moxina,Yao Ai-ning (姚愛甯) as Wawa,Edison Song (宋柏緯) as Xiaosi,Zaizai Lin (林辰唏) as Alice
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Language: Mandarin and Taiwanese with Chinese and English Subtitles
Taiwan Release: Sept. 14
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten
I didn’t expect to spend more than three minutes out of my car, yet the sun was so brutal I put on my hat before approaching the seawall. Beimen (北門) is the flattest and most sun-baked part of Tainan. It lacks trees and people. In wintertime, the weather is often delightful. It wasn’t yet mid-morning in the hot season, however, and I felt like a leaf shriveling in the desert. Atop the seawall but facing inland, I could see dozens of the rectangular ponds which account for a significant percentage of Beimen’s “land” area. Some, no doubt, were dug to produce
Chen Wang-shi (陳罔市) doesn’t know where to go if she is forced to move. The 78-year-old Chen is an active “sea woman” (海女) in Taiwan’s easternmost fishing village of Makang (馬崗) in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮). When the waves are calm, she ventures out to forage for algae, oysters and other edible marine morsels. She lives alone in the village, as her children have moved to the cities for work, returning for weekends and festivals. “I cannot get used to living in Taipei, and I feel very uncomfortable if I don’t go out to the ocean to forage. I