A slashing incident connects a group of disillusioned youths, in director Ho Wi Ding’s disarmingly powerful look at the truth beyond the headlines.
Contemporary World Cinema
Ho Wi Ding
A splendid, tragic fresco of the lost life of youths in pre-COVID Taipei, Terrorizers is the latest film by Ho Wi Ding. Known to TIFF audiences for 2009’s Pinoy Sunday and Cities of Last Things, recipient of the Platform Prize in 2018, Ho returns to directing with a complex, multiple-narrative work that defies genre definitions and classic film structure. Reality can be captured through cinema, but there is a gap between what an image shows and what really is — between representation and the real world. What lies behind the headlines, what happens around tragedy, forms the prism of events at the core of Ho’s story of passion, love, and vengeance — illuminated fragments of scattered lives.
The story revolves around Ming Liang (Austin Lin), a disturbed young man who has committed a slashing attack in public, and five characters he crosses paths with. Yu Fang (Moon Lee) studies acting and lives with her father, a politician who is about to get married to his pregnant girlfriend. She falls for Monica (Annie Chen), an aspiring actor who is desperately trying to get decent roles in regular plays but is haunted by her past as a porn performer. Xiao Zhang (JC Lin) has always been in love with Yu Fang and is now determined to settle down with her. Kiki (Pipi Yao) is a high-school student and cosplayer who is in love with Ming Liang. A lonely masseuse watches the outside world from her tiny apartment, like a distant goddess, clouded in cigarette smoke.
Terrorizers is a powerful story that investigates the origins of violence and finds poetry within aesthetics, while giving voice to a remarkable ensemble cast.