Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien Run Time: 101 min. Release Year: 2001 Language: Chinese
Starring: Doze Niu Cheng-Tse, Duan Chun-hao, Jack Kao, Jun Takeuchi, Shu Qi
A stylish and seductive submersion into the techno-scored neon nightlife of Taipei, Hou’s much-misunderstood marvel stars Shu Qi (The Assassin) as an aimless bar hostess drifting away from her blowhard boyfriend and towards Jack Kao’s suave, sensitive gangster. Structured as a flashback to the then-present from the then-future of 2011, it’s a transfixing trance-out of a movie, drenched in club lights, ecstatic endorphin-rush exhilaration, and a nagging undercurrent of ennui.
“Sordid yet transcendent, bathed in neon haze and set to a relentless techno-beat, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “Millennium Mambo” — the tale of a teenage Taipei club girl — is not only the most pop movie the great Taiwanese filmmaker has ever made but, intermittently, among the most astonishingly beautiful.” – New York Times
“As a 20-year-old drifting through her life, Vicky (Shu Qi) is a symbol of both the endlessly promising new millennium and, furthermore, Taiwan trying to move past the historical trauma of its past––a theme documented throughout Hou’s filmography.” – The Film Stage
“Even setting aside its position in Hou’s ouevre, Mambo stands on its own as an incredibly accomplished, if less than fully satisfying, piece of filmmaking. Isn’t it worth considering Millennium Mambo on the terms it sets for itself before making a prima facie judgment as to its merit, to ask why Hou’s made a film that is so lovely and elusive, enthralling and empty? To put a very fine point on it, what if the film’s disjointed fragments and underdramatized vignettes are, in fact, the point?” – Reverse Shot