A Sun

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A Sun
A Sun 2019.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Traditional陽光普照
Simplified阳光普照
MandarinYángguāng pǔzhào
LiterallySunshine illuminates everything
Directed byChung Mong-hong
Produced byYeh Ju-feng
Tseng Shao-chien
Written byChung Mong-hong
Chang Yao-sheng
StarringChen Yi-wen
Samantha Ko
Wu Chien-ho
Liu Kuan-ting
Music byLin Sheng-xiang
CinematographyNagao Nakashima
Edited byLai Hsiu-hsiung
Production
company
3 NG Film
Distributed byApplause Entertainment
Release date
  • September 6, 2019 (2019-09-06) (TIFF)
  • November 1, 2019 (2019-11-01) (Taiwan)[1]
Running time
155 minutes
CountryRepublic of China (Taiwan)
LanguageMandarin
BudgetNT$44 million[2]
Box officeNT$14 million[3]

A Sun (Chinese: 陽光普照) is a 2019 Taiwanese drama film directed and co-written by Chung Mong-hong. The film stars Chen Yi-wen, Samantha Ko, Wu Chien-ho, Liu Kuan-ting. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2019 and was also screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival.[4][5] It received 11 nominations at the 56th Golden Horse Awards, winning Best Feature Film and Best Director for Chung.[6] It was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards,[7] making the shortlist of fifteen films.[8]

According to director Chung Mong-hong, the idea from the film arose when a childhood friend told him about how he had cut off someone's hand in his youth; later while eating hot pot, a mental image of a hand boiling in a hot pot struck him and drove him to create the film.[9]

Plot[edit]

Troublesome teenager Chen Jian Ho is arrested after he and his friend Radish assault a young man named Oden at a market, during which Radish chops off Oden’s hand with a machete. During the trial, Ho claims he only intended to scare Oden and didn’t know Radish planned to actually use the machete. Ho is sentenced to juvenile detention, while Radish is given a harsher prison sentence. Ho’s father Wen, refuses to acknowledge Ho’s existence after this, though his wife Qin continues to visit their son in custody. Wen instead focuses attention and affection on Ho’s shy older brother Hao, who is studying at a cram school for medical school. Wen is continually pestered at his driving instructor job by Oden’s father for money, but Wen refuses to pay, claiming no responsibility for his son’s actions.

A girl named Yu and her aunt approach the Chen family, as she has become pregnant with Ho’s child. Although Qin supports Yu throughout her pregnancy, she does not inform her son about the child during her weekly visits. Hao and Yu later visit Ho in jail, but Yu is not allowed to enter; Hao tells his brother about the pregnancy, and Ho reacts angrily that the truth was hidden from him for so long.

Wen is awoken in the middle of a night by a neighbor after Hao’s body is found on the ground floor of the apartment complex; he had committed suicide by jumping from the balcony. Zhen, a classmate and romantic interest of Hao's, visits the grieving family and informs Qin that Hao had sent her a text the day prior, explaining that he felt he had nowhere to hide from all the attention on him.

Ho and Yu marry, and when Ho is released after a year and a half in detention, he moves back home, where his father continues to ignore him. Ho takes a job at a car wash to support his family. One night Wen, tormented by visions of his deceased son, leaves in the middle of the night to buy cigarettes. He encounters Ho at the convenience store, unaware that he’d taken a second job there; they speak briefly about Hao and appear to reconcile.

Three years later, while Ho works late at the car wash, he is approached by Radish, who has just been released from prison. Radish asks Ho for money, but Ho claims not to have any. Radish later picks him up after a shift to drive downtown, where he instructs Ho to enter an alleyway and fire a gun at a legislator’s office; Ho reluctantly does so. Wen becomes concerned with Radish’s presence in town and confronts him, offering to pay him to stay away from his son; Radish dismisses him.

Radish again visits Ho late at night at the car wash, coercing him into borrowing a client’s car and going for a late-night drive. They stop near a remote empty property, where Radish instructs Ho to get out and approach a group of men inside to deliver a mysterious package; he is given a large sum of money in exchange. However, when Ho returns in the pouring rain, Radish is nowhere to be seen; Ho quickly returns the car before going home.

Some time later, a group of thugs kidnaps Ho and demand the money, explaining that Radish was found dead in a ditch near the park. After Ho gives them the money, they beat him and drop him off on a busy overpass, leaving him with a substantial “delivery fee” for his trouble. Meanwhile, Wen and Qin go for a hike, where Wen explains that he has been skipping work to tail Ho and Radish. He witnessed them borrow the car and drive to the park; once Ho left to get the money, Wen ran down Radish with his car, dragging his body off the road before driving away. He explains that this was the best way he could think of to help his only remaining son.

Some time later, Ho and his mother bond over a stack of old notebooks that Wen had gifted to Hao at medical school, each titled with Wen's motto “Seize the Day, Decide Your Path.” They then share a tandem bike ride through a park.

Cast[edit]

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 14 reviews. The film was positively reviewed by Peter Debruge in Variety,[10] as well as Deborah Young in The Hollywood Reporter,[11] David Ehrlich of IndieWire[12] and Anthony Kao in Cinema Escapist.[13] The reviewers praised Chung's restraint as well as the writing and acting of the ensemble of characters.

The film received significant attention from American critics after Peter Debruge of Variety named it the best film of 2020.[14] Prior to this, few American critics were even aware of the film's existence or its Netflix release earlier that year.[15]

The film won the top award in the 2019 Golden Horse Awards.[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref
2019 56th Golden Horse Awards Best Feature Film A Sun Won [16]
Best Director Chung Mong-hong Won
Best Leading Actor Wu Chien-ho Nominated [17]
Chen Yi-wen Won [16]
Best Leading Actress Samantha Ko Nominated [17]
Best Supporting Actor Liu Kuan-ting Won [16]
Best Supporting Actress Wen Chen-ling Nominated [17]
Best Original Screenplay Chung Mong-hong and Chang Yao-sheng Nominated
Best Cinematography Nagao Nakashima Nominated
Best Original Film Song "Distant Journey" Nominated
Best Film Editing Lai Hsiu-hsiung Won [16]
Audience Choice Award A Sun Won
2020 14th Asian Film Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Director Chung Mong-hong Nominated
Best Actor Chen Yi-wen Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Liu Kuan-ting Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Samantha Ko Won
Best Screenplay Chung Mong-hong and Chang Yao-sheng Nominated
Best Editing Lai Hsiu-hsiung Nominated
2021 14th Houston Film Critics Society Best Foreign Language Film A Sun Won [18]
25th Satellite Awards Best Foreign Language Film Pending

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "光看預告就想哭!巫建和《陽光普照》深度刻畫親情糾結". VOGUE時尚網 (in Chinese). Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  2. ^ (in Chinese)"【一点资讯】开年特稿:来势凶猛,钟孟宏会是下一个杨德昌吗". 一点资讯.
  3. ^ "2019 Taiwan Box Office Statistics 11/18-11/24" (PDF). Taiwan Film Institute.
  4. ^ "A Sun". TIFF. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  5. ^ "A Sun". Tokyo International Film Festival 2019 (in Japanese).
  6. ^ "「鏡文學」張耀升編劇電影《陽光普照》 金馬獎獲11項提名". tw.news.yahoo.com (in Chinese). Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Family drama 'A Sun' to represent Taiwan at 2021 Oscars". Focus Taiwan. 28 September 2020. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  8. ^ Davis, Clayton (9 February 2021). "Oscars Shortlists Announced in Nine Categories". Variety. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  9. ^ Tangcay, Jazz. "'A Sun' Trailer: Taiwan's Oscar Contender Tears Small Family Apart". Variety. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  10. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 23, 2019). "Film Review: 'A Sun'". Variety. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  11. ^ Young, Deborah (November 8, 2019). "'A Sun' ('Yang Guang Pu Zhao'): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  12. ^ Ehrlich, David. "Buried on Netflix, Taiwanese Crime Epic 'A Sun' Demands Serious Oscar Consideration". IndieWire. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  13. ^ Kao, Anthony (November 29, 2019). "Review: "A Sun" Is A Meticulous Family Drama Worthy of Its Golden Horse Awards". Cinema Escapist. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  14. ^ Debruge, Peter. "Best Movies of 2020". Variety.
  15. ^ Brueggemann, Tom. "Netflix Has One of the Year's Best Films With Taiwan's 'A Sun' — Here's Why You Didn't Know About It". IndieWire.
  16. ^ a b c d e Grater, Tom (November 23, 2019). "'A Sun', 'Detention' Top Winners At Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards". Deadline. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  17. ^ a b c "Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards Unveils Nominations Amid China Tensions". Deadline. 1 October 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  18. ^ Neglia, Matt (January 18, 2021). "The 2020 Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS) Winners". Next Best Picture. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 19, 2021.

External links[edit]