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Twenty Something Taipei
Twenty Something Taipei

Director: Dai Liren (2002)

Do you know much about Taipei and Taipei youth? To most on the Chinese mainland, it's a difficult question to answer. Apart from a seemingly endless stream of teen-pop stars like F4 and roads crowded with motorcycles, Taipei is a strange and distant city over here.

The newly released Twenty Something Taipei draws a colorful picture of Taipei's scene through the tangled and naked lives of eight youths, with a nightclub, called Deep, at the center.

Lecherous hair designer Cola wallows in the club's seedy depths, hunting for girls each night. Long-suffering girlfriend Vivi agonizes over his infidelities, but continues to submit to the humiliation. Cindy, meanwhile, engages in cybersex in the office during the day, and is the dancing queen of the club by night. While she swaps bed-fellows on a frequent basis, her heart is dedicated to Xiao Ma, a listless young man who sells E to party animals. Xiao Ma's father is in the last stages of terminal illness, and he relies on his net-lover Summer Blue for support. 

At Cindy's birthday gathering at Deep, a dissolute young man, Ben, falls for her friend Eva, and the pair move in together. Meanwhile, Hitomi and Iden make it their mission in life to sleep with every TV-related star to make their dreams come true. 

Sex, drugs, and lots of music, from 9pm to 5am, it would appear that Taipei's twenty-somethings are throwing their youth around much as their contemporaries in other metropolises around the world. Twenty Something Taipei is a mixture of ideas and influences, borrowing heavily from other urban youth classics such as Trainspotting (UK), Rush (Korea), Kid's Return (Japan), and American Pie (US). 

Probably Twenty Something Taipei's biggest influence, however, was the movie Twenty-Somethings, from filmmaker Chen Deseng, as he delved into Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong nine years ago. Although Chen always planned to shoot a Taiwan version of his original film, it finally came down to director Dai Liren to show a more fashionable and reckless Taipei. Bittersweet love affairs and graphic sex scenes all play against a soundtrack of thumping music. Undoubtedly, Twenty Something Taipei is the current favorite of Taiwan's new generation, but fashion aside, some of the packaging falls prey to the usual stereotypes and deliberate shock tactics (to wit, the first lesbian marriage on the island, between Vivi and Iden). That said, each episode is in its proper place, leaving you satisfied by the closing credits.

(cityweekend.com.cn February 12, 2004)

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