Directed by Doze Niu
Released Fenuary 2010
Mark Chao as Mosquito, the lonely new kid, he grew up not knowing his father
Ethan Juan as Monk, a smart kid who has always had Dragon’s back
Rhydian Vaughan as Dragon Lee, his father is the leader of a street gang
Huang Teng-hui as A-po, a week member of the gang
Tsai Chang-hsien as Monkey, a boy who grew up without parents and enjoys fighting
Doze Niu as Grey Wolf, a gang leader from mainland china
Plot Summery: Set in 1980s Taiwan, after the end of military dictatorship. Monga focuses on a group of friends as they join a gang in a Teipei shopping district. in this exploration of brotherhood and friendship. Mosquito, the films narrator and newest member of the ‘gang of princes’, finds friends and a place of being after years of loneliness. Though soon their bonds are put to the test with the arrival of a mainland gang.
The second film by Taiwanese director, Doze Niu, has many strong points mixed in with an equal amount of, I wouldn’t say bad but iffy points. In this film about a lonely boy, Mosquito (Mark Chao) who grew up in a single parent family with no father. He lives a miserable life with no friends and a target of bullying at his new school. Though after wiping dog poo on a bully’s face, a group of small school gangsters take him under their wing.
The Temple Front is a street gang based in Monga, known locally as Báng-kah, in 1980’s Taipei. in a time when gangs and the like are romanticised on a captivating 80’s backdrop. Dragon’s father is the leader of Temple Front and so him, Mosquito, Monk, A-po and Monkey for a brotherhood within the gang ‘gang of princes’. Fighting and small time revenge is what takes up most of their days within the first half of the movie. building upon the ideas of friendship and strengthening the relationships between these 5 characters.
The portryalas of friendship and the coming of age story are the stronger points of this movie. We grasp a real sense of the strong bonds these characters develop. it’s enjoyable to watch they live out their days as gangsters. With he second half of the movie coming round, the gang soon falls apart with betrayals and the like. in a sense it’s sad that we see this, but at the same time, the script doesn’t hold too well. It was never heart wrenching or fearful like most other films from Asia do portray.
Though with the film being 2 hour 21, my eyes were constantly fixed on the screen. with the directing and stunning look of the setting it was hard to pull your eyes from Monga, as in the place. The historic site from the 80’s was captured with the many people in a captivating way as old meets new. Dove Niu is able to direct the story well as his performance in the film also shines through. it’s sad that the script falls short in some places with random plot twists, that make you question why they weren’t explained from the start.
All in all I would recommend Monga. The story of brotherhood is told touchingly with good discretion and wonderful settings, that many people will be transfixed. The film makes a nice contribution the the Taiwanese second new wave. Though sadly is one of the last.