A Brighter Summer Day - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Brighter Summer Day Reviews

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August 8, 2017
Melancholically observed and richly detailed, Edward Yang's 4-hour long sprawling Taiwanese family saga set in the tumultuous era of the sixties, defined by Elvis mania, street gang rivalries, confusion of identity and a loss of security felt by children of parents fleeing from the Communist revolution, culminates in a shocking scene of cold-blooded juvenile murder that gives the film the Chinese title - The Homicide Incident of the Youth on Guling Street.
October 25, 2016
A sense of justice can be misplaced.
October 18, 2016
The Greatest of all time, also my favorite film currently. It can be L'Etranger of taiwanese films, the greatest film that no one can film ever in Taiwan, and Edward Yang can stand side by side with few greatest filmmakers like Fellini, Bergman, Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Truffaut, Godard, Angelopoulos, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Kieslowski and Resnais. Memory, history, philosophy, absurd, the world, Albert Camus, human being, all the connections of essence are in this masterpiece.
April 23, 2016
Funny how 4 hours can feel so fleeting. The visual and audial achievement cannot be understated. The sets, designed by Edward Yang, act as essential catalysts to mood and behavior. And, like so many films from the Taiwanese New Wave, the central character is loneliness. The street gang set pieces are compelling. But this is without a doubt a tragedy. The sad mask to Yi Yi's more life-affirming one. Yang truly was a master and I believe his work's impact will only grow stronger over time.
½ March 25, 2016
An amazing four hours epic coming-of-age Taiwanese 1960s-period teenage gangster drama.
½ March 25, 2016
I realize the big picture in the backdrop plus its significance in Taiwan Cinema (history). It's simultaneously a vast jumble however.
July 7, 2015
A very, very long film, but worth every damn minute it is. Watching the film without any doing any "pre-view research" in Wikipedia (how lucky I am!), the film's ending almost made me chocked from disbelief. The title, the young and bright faces of those naive and beautiful characters (no wonder why Chang Chen still retain his statue-like handsomeness after all those years, his facial shape and shining eyes were already damn perfect in this film at the age of 15), the youthful and calm flow of stories (yes, despite all the political turmoil and gang conflicts, the film is pretty much "a brighter summer day" for most of its length), all those things made me feel deeply at ease enjoying some reminiscence about my own youth. And suddenly the ending, the heart-breaking ending that torn down all the calmness at the surface, to show the audience all the turbulent flows of adolescent craziness, all the stupidity inside those naive minds that cherish love, first love, first stirring moment of those inexperienced hearts, than anything else in the world. Yes, those young boys could easily sacrifice themselves for friendship, but they can also turn their back to each other "just because of a girl" (which is in fact their own vanity, the shallow vanity that everyone has at such young age). But the most heart-breaking thing is, no one can blame those boys, those girls for their stupidity, for their reckless behaviours, no one, as the only thing these coming-of-age "children" can follow at this stage of life is their own heart. And they suffer, even perish due to such innocent naivety. Really, the film is too beautiful, the characters are too beautiful that I really expected no harm coming upon them, but life is never that easy, especially when you are so fragile, so sensible as we often are, at such age. Emotions aside, "A Brighter Summer Day" is also technically magnificent, with very good pacing, stunning acting from the surely amateur cast, and an apparent flavour of Ozu, through Edward Yang's style of "still" frame, leaving important details out of the audience's view, and a strange calmness from the characters even in their most difficult moments, which only enhances the linkage between the audience and the strong flow of emotions underneath of those characters. Maybe not "a brighter summer day", but a beautiful, and sad, day of their youth, our youth, nonetheless.
April 29, 2015
New born never afraid
February 14, 2015
Really want to see this but can't find a dvd of it.
June 3, 2014
Wow. This is fantastic! And utterly heartbreaking. If you don't mind sitting around for 4 hours reading subtitles, then this is a must see! Let's hope Criterion can work out the rights for a DVD release soon.
May 8, 2014
A Brighter Summer Day (1991) - 9,5

"A Brighter Summer Day" is a terrifying film, showing the harsh reality of Taipei's streets in the 60s after the Chinese Civil War, that took place between 1946 - 49, forced millions of Mainland Chinese to flee to Taiwan. Hauntingly ruthless reality as if it had been rescued from the memories of someone who lived it as a teenager. The film focuses at this stage of life of a boy, the collapse of illusions, search for identity, paving way through emotional turmoil, learn to grow from marking experiences, all this becomes more urgent in the severe struggle for survival within the sea of street gangs that instigate a culture of violence and transgression among the youngsters. The teenage mob, permeable to external factors by nature, has in Taiwan multicultural melting pot a major influence for either the better or worse. Without the strong lead from previous generations, youths can find themselves helpless in a volatile and merciless world.

"A Brighter Summer Day" is usually labelled as a Drama. In my opinion, the experienced world is too stark and ruthless to have a merely neutral attitude towards it, any glimpse of hope or optimism is fleeting and soon turn mirage. I'd say this is a fine Horror specimen in equal measure, probably one of the very best I've seen. It does remind me of Kurosawa's "Ran" in its disenchanted view of the cruel human nature. The difference is that "Ran" softens (in a counter-productive manner) the impact of violence and brutality depicted on the screen by way of Kurosawa's style and for the fact that it is an allegorical fiction while Yang's work, on the contrary, enhances even more what could have been a real experience through very raw, yet intelligent and subtle cinematics. Some scenes evoked in me genuine feelings of horror and despair like no other film has done in a long time, "City of God" (2002) from Fernando Meireles is similar in this aspect, or at least has the same potential, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Brasilian director had taken inspiration from the Taiwanese work. It's frightening and deeply heartbreaking to imagine myself living those worlds in my own skin as a child or teenager.

Yang has great cinematic skill and this film easily immerses, curiously the bad picture quality enhanced even more the power of persuasion making the experience all the more haunting to me, for once I'm glad I didn't watch a film in HD. The acting is surprisingly accomplished taking into account that more than 100 amateur actors were used, it didn't actually seem to me that so many actors were ever on the screen, the film felt quite consistent and uncomplicated on the whole. The only thing that I would change are some of the last moments, I didn't feel as involved as in the rest of the film, the persuasive factor decreased very quickly. I felt there was a bit of dragging and the expression of religious disappointment towards the main character's tragic fate seemed redundant to me. This won't irk my appreciation for this work, but it wouldn't hurt to edit away a few minutes of redundant footage at the end of a film that is virtually perfect over 4 hours, only my opinion. It makes sense to say this is a technically perfect work.

This is the second work of Edward Yang to get printed in my memory, another masterpiece. The heritage of "A Brighter Summer Day" inherited by "Yi Yi" is easily recognizable in the plot, style, the way that thematics are developed and even in the brilliant moments of cinematic introspection, but this doesn't decrease "Yi Yi's" value in my eyes because both films have very different qualities. "Yi Yi" focuses on broader themes without the gloominess that plagues "A Brighter Summer Day" and the visuals are more polished. "Yi Yi" makes me feel like I experienced a whole life filled with bittersweet enchantment, "A Brighter Summer Day" makes me feel like I experienced a living nightmare during the brief period of a troubled youth. Both works are rich in thematic substance and equally epic, but they're completely different worlds. "A Brighter Summer Day" is wonderful and deeply moving, highly recommended!
½ February 21, 2014
Another of Edward Yang's epics. It's nearly 4 hours long but you have to stick it through to the end. Otherwise you will never be able to understand the full reach and scope this films attains. I wish I had watched a better quality version but until Criterion releases it. we are all stuck with secondhand copies. Still very worth seeking out!!
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2013
One of the most amazing films I've seen in a long time. Life changing.
June 22, 2013
Edward Yang is so dead.
January 24, 2012
Based on the adolescent experiences of the director, Edward Yang, A Brighter Summer Day evinces itself to be both a visceral and celebrate storytelling of youth within 'White Terror' Taiwan, filled with convicted acting and native idiomatic dialogue. While extraordinarily lengthy, the film does not waste it's runtime in mundane trivialities, rather suits it's purpose in displaying the personae of the gang-members and common citizens, and goes to speciality to focus on Xiao Sir, and the murder he commits spurred by an ill-fated romance. This film became all the more favorable to me when it's title was shown to have come from the lyrics of an impassioned Elvis song. Chalked with bittersweet realism and saturnine intertwining passages, this expressive drama takes to a grade not so often seen by any filmgoer.
Super Reviewer
½ January 4, 2012
a fantastic film restored this year by scorsese's world cinema foundation, here's hoping this gets a dvd release sooner rather than later. some issue with the taiwanese government has been holding it up for at least 3 years. there is a crap version on google video with mostly unreadable subtitles :( the film follows the 1960s generation youth, their obsession with getting into good schools, gang life and american pop culture. patience will be rewarded here; as anyone who has seen 'yi yi' can attest, yang's realism is on a whole other level
July 27, 2011
Yang's coming-of-age drama that weaves political upheaval, loss of family and national identity, and the turmoil of growing up into a complex four-hour wonder. There are some times when impatience with the pace comes to the fore, but that's pretty rare.
July 18, 2011
The lost 4-hour long Chinese epic that can only be found on google video, is a summary of everything cinema is all about. A cruel and captivating story about growing up in a hostile environment.
June 3, 2011
One of the best films I've ever seen!! Easy to call it a Masterpiece! How this film isnt celebrated and watched as much as it should is a true crime. This film stands up with the best of them; a thoughtful, relevant, historical film. A War and Peace epic that focuses on the youth and their families in a transitional Taiwan. I've never been so moved by a movie let alone an epic 4 hour running time one. Humorous and sad, an important film that has to be preserved and seen. I saw a great restored version of this gem. A very honest portrayal of a period of confusion. Thank you Edward Yang for sharing an experience. Yang and his people should be proud. My highest recommendation.
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