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Winds of September -
The Taiwan Chapter
Winds of September - The Taiwan Chapter

The boys of Winds of September - The Taiwan Chapter.
Chinese: 九降風之台灣篇  
Year: 2008  
Director: Tom Lin Shu-Yu  
  Producer: Eric Tsang Chi-Wai
  Writer: Henry Tsai, Tom Lin Shu-Yu
  Cast: Rhydian Vaughan, Chang Chieh, Jennifer Chu, Wang Bo-Chieh, Lin Chi-Tai, Sheng Wei-Nian, Chiu Yi-Cheng, Chi Pei-Hui, Lee Yue-Cheng, Lu Yi-Ching, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Ko Yue-Lun
  The Skinny: A well-told version of an oft-told story, with a photogenic cast and real effort and care behind it. Winds of September doesn't break any new ground, but it's a solid production and a fine second feature for director Tom Lin.
by Kozo:

Produced by Eric Tsang and Hong Kong-based Big Pictures Limited, Winds of September - The Taiwan Chapter is the first of three films from three different Asian countries, each telling the same basic story of youth and friendship, and how good intentions can't stop the inevitable, sometimes tragic end of innocence. Director Tom Lin Shu-Yu (Parachute Kids) is the originator of this concept, as all three films are based off his original script, which follows one year in the school lives of seven boys as they come to grips with change and conflict within their ranks. The Taiwan Chapter takes place specifically in 1997 in suburban Hsinchu, a medium-sized city south of Taipei, at the peak of the Chinese Professional Baseball League's popularity. At the time, the fledgling professional sports league was beset by a game-fixing scandal, mirroring the disillusionment and loss of hope felt by the young boys muddling through their quietly desperate lives.

Tang (Chang Chieh) is one of seven friends of varying high school years. Collectively, the group is known as a bunch of troublemakers, though some of the gang are worse than others. The charismatic assumed leader is Yen (Rhydian Vaughan), a handsome playboy whose prim girlfriend Yun (Jennifer Chu) has to put up with incessant stories of his infidelity. The problem reaches a tipping point when Yen sleeps with another girl and her angry boyfriend comes calling. Tang is mistaken for Yen and assaulted in his place, and the incident ultimately drives a minor wedge in the group. The situation is exacerbated by the other boys' individual conflicts and issues, and Yen and Tang nearly have a falling out. The two do seem to patch things up, but the cracks in the group's camaraderie begin to worsen. Some boys are pressured to drop the group, while others continue to misbehave, ignoring the damage it may have on their future. Ultimately, the boys' aimlessness results in a tragedy that further drives them apart, revealing the anger, cowardice, fear, jealousy, and helplessness that lives within them.

Winds of September is a second feature for director Tom Lin, whose facility with the Taiwan Cinema house style (picturesque settings, sharp cinematography, slow pacing, generous visual storytelling) gives his film an air of quality most other features would envy. The film's superficial trappings are exceptionally impressive, such that one may feel that the obvious surface quality also exists underneath. Lin does make his characters distinct, giving them personality and charisma, but the situations don't necessarily extend beyond what's obvious. Lin sketches his situations and characters sharply, but despite the drama inherent in his subject matter, Lin never seems to draw the film away from tried-and-true formula. This is a youth film about misbehaving youth, so they're going to have fun, fight, get into trouble, and eventually get in over their heads. Ultimately, what happens to them is expected and even perfunctory because, well, that's what always happens in these films.

Not that there's anything wrong with conventional movies, especially ones that feel as quality as this one. Winds of September doesn’t do much to make it necessarily stand out, but it possesses a variety of promising, attractive new faces, plus it assembles its elements exceptionally well. Sometimes style (even non-flashy, contemplative style) can make the generic more substantial, and Tom Lin assembles a fine package, getting effective performances from his cast, and making their generic conflicts come to matter. Furthermore, Lin's portrait of Taiwan is undeniably pretty to look at it, and is beautifully captured by art director Lee Tien-Chue and cinematographer Fisher Yu. Hsinchu is more suburban than Taipei, and possesses an idyllic rural charm that perfectly fits the film's coming-of-age themes. Also, the use of the historically-accurate baseball scandal is intriguing, echoing the boys' maturation and changing emotions well. Winds of September is not fully-realized, and lacks the depth or complexity to take it to another level of achievement. But for a second feature, it's a fine effort, and one worthy of support. (Kozo 2008)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
2-DVD Set
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
Numerous extras

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images courtesy of The 3rd Vision Films Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen