The Terrorizers

dir. Edward Yang

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Edward Yang's lacerating vision of a rapidly globalizing Taipei has been praised by critics as one of the radical works of the Taiwanese New Wave.


Acclaimed by scholar Peggy Chiao as the first Taiwanese film to explore the fundamental nature of film and filmmaking (ironic, as the film had its debut on television), The Terrorizers garnered a Silver Leopard at the 1987 Locarno Film Festival and has been praised by critics as one of the radical works of the Taiwanese New Wave. Yang deftly weaves together a number of seemingly disconnected narrative strands and characters — including a Mainland doctor and his self-absorbed novelist wife, a gang of petty street hoodlums and their female compatriot, and a young photographer who wanders the streets quietly observing the teeming life around him — to create a lacerating vision of the pervasive anomie and subterranean violence of a rapidly globalizing Taipei. Famously identified by Fredric Jameson as the postmodern film par excellence — its palimpsistic portrait of urban space rhyming with (while being distinctly different in method from) the genre revisionism of the Hong Kong New Wave — The Terrorizers is a crucial film in Yang’s oeuvre and paved the way for his even more ambitious A Brighter Summer Day. "Jameson rightly sees The Terrorizers as bathed in a 'postmodern' light, but this is mainly a nocturnal film defined by a no less postmodern darkness ... The sense of an encroaching void broken by a few warm islands of light in which tenuous relationships flicker recalls Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause in more ways than one" (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).