Movie: Monga (艋舺)
Director: Doze Niu
Writers: Tseng Li-ting, Doze Niu
Producers: Doze Niu, Dennis Yu, Chan Ya-wen, Alan Tong, Lee Lieh, Yao Cheng-chung, Chang Hsueh-shun
Language: Taiwanese, Mandarin
Monga is a Taiwanese film that follows the bonds formed between five friends. The film begins with Mosquito, a young boy who finds himself constantly getting into trouble. Whether it is with his school or other classmates, he often finds himself running away from those who want to hurt him. In one of these cases, a group of bullies chase Mosquito because he made a mockery of one of them by not appeasing their demands. The bullies eventually catch up to him and begin to lay in on him, however, Mosquito is capable of handling his own. A group of boys watches from a distance and they see Mosquito take hit after hit but manage to somehow stay in the fight.
Later the four boys confront Mosquito and ask him to be a part of their group. Hesitant at first, he finally decides that nothing but good can come from their friendship. The high school students form their own little gang due to one of the members father’s being a powerful Boss of a gang. They soon make a blood oath to one another saying that they are all brothers till the end.
However, as time goes on, things begin to change and the five friends find difficult times in the area known as home. Mainlanders are approaching the elder bosses and asking them to get with the times and form a bond between their turfs and that of the Mainlanders.
Some of the bosses are reluctant to join forces with these new powers, which creates turmoil between some of the other bosses of Monga. The five friends find themselves in the middle of the problem and soon begin to realize that the cause of problems is coming from within their own group.
Monga is an excellent film that can hold up to the many Hong Kong gangster films that share a similar attitude and mindset. It is well casted and the story is well written. Each character is capable of bringing his own to the film without the many characters resulting an overwhelming feeling like many films of this caliber. Due to the characters’ and actors’ ability to stand out and not become generic mobsters as in the case of a lot of films like this one, the size of the cast works to their advantage.
I felt that this film was capable of drawing attention to an overused theme such as blood brothers, but was able to distinguish itself from the other blood brotheresque films that are already out there. Monga is a great tale that shows a friendship between five friends and the measures they will take to preserve it or destroy that friendship to do what they believe is right.
Cast: Mark Chao, Ethan Ruan, Rhydian Vaughan, Teng-Hui Huang, Chang-Hsien Tsai, Ma Ju-Lung, Doze Niu, Jason Wang, Chia-yen Ko, Han Dian Chen