Detention (2019 film)

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Detention 2019 movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Mandarinfǎn xiào
Directed byJohn Hsu
Produced by
  • Lee Lieh
  • Lee Yao-hua
Written by
  • John Hsu
  • Fu Kai-ling
  • Chien Shi-keng
Based onDetention
by Red Candle Games
  • 1 Production Film Co.
  • Filmagic Pictures
  • Asmik Ace
Distributed byWarner Bros. Taiwan
Release date
  • 20 September 2019 (2019-09-20)
Running time
105 minutes
BudgetNT$95 million
Box officeNT$260 million[1]

Detention (Chinese: 返校) is a 2019 Taiwanese supernatural psychological horror film directed by John Hsu and based on the popular horror video game of same name developed by Red Candle Games. Set in 1962 during Taiwan's White Terror period, two students are trapped at their hillside high school at night. While trying to escape and find their missing teacher, they encounter ghosts and the dark truth of their fate.

The film was not released in mainland China (due to government order),[2] but enjoyed strong box office success in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore (released on 5 December 2019), Malaysia (9 January 2020), Indonesia (2 December 2020), and South Korea (13 August 2020);[3][4] the film was also selected in the official section of the 2020 International Film Festival Rotterdam.[5]

A TV series of the same name aired in 2020 on PTS and Netflix. The TV series is based on the video game, but its story is different from the film.


In 1962, during Taiwan's White Terror, a final year middle school student named Fang Ray-shin falls in love with her teacher and counsellor, Chang Ming-Hui. Amid the growing problems she faces at both home and school, he becomes her only escape. The freedom-loving Chang is the organiser of a study group for banned books, along with fellow teacher Yin Tsui-han and second-year student Wei Chong-ting. Though the study group provides a place to breathe in a dangerous environment, its members risk death by participating. One day, Chang disappears without explanation, and only Ray-shin and Chong-ting seem to remember that he ever existed. The two agree to work together to find their missing teacher but soon find that the school is no longer the familiar world they remember. The building has become an alien land with ghosts and demons, and the two students will be forced to confront the terrible truth.[6]



The film production rights were purchased on 21 June 2017 from Red Candle Games by 1 Production Film Co.[7][6][8] The first film trailer was released on 19 June 2019.[9] The film's budget was roughly NT$95 million.[9] The story and game are inspired by true events, specifically the 1947 Keelung Senior High School incident [zh].[10] A portion of the film production took place in Kaohsiung.[11] The film score featured a live orchestra of forty instrumentalists.[12]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref
2019 56th Golden Horse Awards Best New Director John Hsu Won [13]
Best Adapted Screenplay John Hsu, Fu Kai-ling, Chien Shih-keng Won
Best Visual Effects Renovatio Pictures, Tomi Kuo Won
Best Art Direction Wang Chih-cheng Won
Best Original Film Song "The Day After Rain" Won
Best Feature Film Detention Nominated [14]
Best Leading Actress Gingle Wang Nominated
Best New Performer Tseng Ching-hua Nominated
Best Action Choreography Jimmy Hung Nominated
Best Film Editing Shieh Meng-ju Nominated
Best Sound Effects Dennis Tsao, Book Chien Nominated
Best Original Film Score Lu Luming Nominated
2020 39th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film from Mainland and Taiwan Detention Nominated [15]
2020 Fantasporto Special Award - Orient Express Section Detention Won [16]
2020 Taipei Film Awards Grand Prize Detention Won [17]
Best Narrative Feature Detention Won
Best Actress Gingle Wang Won
Best Art Design Wang Chih-cheng Won
Best Visual Effects Tomi Kuo Won
Best Sound Design Dennis Tsao, Book Chien Won
14th Asian Film Awards Best Visual Effects Tomi Kijo, Renovatio Pictures Won
Best New Director John Hsu Nominated


The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 85% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 6.90/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Politically charged horror that's as viscerally effective as it is intellectually stimulating, Detention's got class."[18] A review in the Taipei Times described the film as "likeable...chilling but not downright terrifying." Compared to the video game, Han Cheung opined that the film felt "simplified" and that it overemphasized its White Terror setting without focusing on the political background of the period.[19] Director John Hsu stated that the film drew a younger audience than he expected.[20] A review in Variety described the film as generally absorbing and entertaining, but noted problems with the narrative, pointing to 'a whiff of sexism in the treatment of naive, jealous schoolgirl Fang, while the underlying ickiness of the teacher-student love affair goes largely unmentioned'.[21]

Detention made NT$67.7 million three days after its premiere in Taiwan, becoming the third-highest take of first three-day gross for domestic film, behind the two-part film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (2011).[22] It is the highest-grossing domestic film of 2019 in Taiwan; it also became one of the top five highest-grossing local films in Taiwan in the last decade.[3]

Following a boycott of the 56th Golden Horse Awards by Chinese filmmakers,[23][24] Detention received twelve award nominations, the most of any film that year.[25] However, due to the sensitive plot of the story, the film is banned in China, and mention of the film is scrubbed from all mainland Chinese websites.[26] The film is referred to as "xx" in Chinese media's Golden Horse nomination reports. In Hong Kong, the release date was pushed back to December in order to avoiding association with the ongoing Hong Kong protests. The film received limited theatrical release on 5 December 2019 in Hong Kong;[27] the film grossed more than HK$11 million at Hong Kong box office,[28] which was a very successful result for a limited theatrical release film.[27][4]


  1. ^ "2019 Taiwan Box Office Statistics 12/23-12/29" (PDF). Taiwan Film Institute.
  2. ^ Frater, Patrick (13 July 2020). "'Detention' Wins Top Awards at Taipei Film Festival". Variety.
  3. ^ a b Wong, Silvia (20 February 2020). "EFM 2020: the buzz titles from Taiwan". Screen Daily. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "【最佳助攻?】《返校》《十年》越鬧越旺 胡慧中文革舊戲曾被禁" [The best attack? 'Detention' and 'Ten Years': the greater the disturbance, the better they do] (in Cantonese). Apple Daily. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  5. ^ "Detention". International Film Festival Rotterdam. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b "台產恐怖遊戲改編電影《返校》預告曝光!如果回到舉報匪諜有功的社會,你還願意嗎?" ['Detention' film based on Taiwanese horror game is announced! Would you return to the society of denouncing spies and meritorious service?]. Agent Movie (in Chinese). 19 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  7. ^ 李秉芳 (22 June 2017). "Detention will soon move to the silver screen, Taiwan first cross-platform collaboration for the between movie and game". Taiwan People News (in Chinese).
  8. ^ Prescott, Shaun (25 June 2019). "Taiwanese horror game Detention is getting a film adaptation". PC Gamer.
  9. ^ a b Yen, William (17 September 2019). "Taiwanese psychological horror film `Detention' to hit screens". Central News Agency. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  10. ^ Liao, Leslie (30 September 2019). "Taiwanese hit film "Detention" based on true story". Radio Taiwan International. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  11. ^ Ko, Yu-hao (23 September 2019). "Kaohsiung denies suppressing film". Taipei Times. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  12. ^ Tsai, Chi-mei (4 October 2019). "Taiwan's New Box Office Hit 'Detention'". CommonWealth Magazine. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  13. ^ Grater, Tom (23 November 2019). "'A Sun', 'Detention' Top Winners At Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards". Deadline. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards Unveils Nominations Amid China Tensions". Deadline. 1 October 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Yen, William (12 July 2020). "Horror film 'Detention' biggest winner at Taipei Film Awards". Central News Agency. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Detention (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  19. ^ Han Cheung (26 September 2019). "Movie review: Detention". Taipei Times. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  20. ^ Lan, Tsu-wei (21 October 2019). "INTERVIEW: Adapting 'Detention' to screen was a challenge: Hsu". Taipei Times. Translated by Hsiao, Sherry; Hetherington, William. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  21. ^ Kiang, Jessica (12 March 2020). "Detention': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  22. ^ Chen, Pin-hung; Hsu, Elizabeth (23 September 2019). "'Detention' box office 3rd highest among domestic films since 2011". Central News Agency. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  23. ^ Grater, Tom (1 October 2019). "Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards Unveils Nominations Amid China Tensions". Deadline. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  24. ^ Frater, Patrick (1 October 2019). "Golden Horse Awards Almost Completely Devoid of China and Hong Kong Nominees". Variety. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  25. ^ Yen, William (1 October 2019). "Local horror film leads Golden Horse Awards nominations". Central News Agency. Retrieved 4 October 2019. Republished as: "'Detention' grabs 12 nominations for annual film awards". Taipei Times. 4 October 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  26. ^ Beach, Sophie (29 September 2019). "Minitrue: Find and Delete Information about Taiwanese Movie "Detention"". China Digital Times. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  27. ^ a b RYAN (2 January 2020). "徐漢強《返校》累積突破千萬大關". 講。鏟。片. Archived from the original on 4 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  28. ^ "一週票房 : 由2020年1月6日至1月12日". Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2020.

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