A Sun

A Sun is a 2019 award-winning Taiwanese drama film that is now streaming on Netflix. Directed and co-written by Chung Mong-hong, A Sun received 11 nominations at the 56th Golden Horse Awards, winning Best Feature Film and Best Director for Chung. The film was also selected as Taiwan’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards, making the shortlist of fifteen films.

The premise of A Sun revolves a Taiwanese family who suffer unimaginable tragedy. The younger son A-Ho is a troublesome teenager who together with his friend Radish, attack a young man named Oden – whom A-Ho claims was bullying him – to scare him. Instead, Radish cuts off Oden’s hand with a machete. A-Ho is sent to juvenile detention and Radish is given a prison sentence.

The rest of A Sun sets out the impact of A-Ho’s actions on his parents. Unfortunately for A-Hao’s parents A-Wen and Qin, their troubles have only begun. Furthermore, the family woes are compounded due to a misfortune befallen on the couple’s elder son, A-Hao.

The first half of the movie plays out like an intensely depressing family drama. However, the characters are crafted well enough so that the audience is able to engage with their respective plights, even if the tragedy is overtly melodramatic. The actors do an amazing job in conveying the weight of the dramatic events.

As good as that first half is, the movie loses its way in the second half. Considering that the movie is over two and a half hours long, the story could have probably lost most of the plot of the second half. Basically, A-Ho is released from juvenile detention but then is faced with adjusting to normal life again and has to resist the temptation of a criminal life, brought about by old buddy Radish who steps back into A-Ho’s life after his own prison release.

What follows is that the story devolves into a gangster tale of sorts but even more than that, the re-introduction of Radish in A-Ho’s life is mainly to set up the twist in the final act. We will not spoil it for you, suffice to say, you will not see it coming. Not only that but the climatic scene may also leave you shaking your head in disbelief! Some might even argue that the ending is all too convenient and unnecessary.

So Ah Sun is half a great movie. At best. Some viewers might feel that the twist ending might even redeem the movie after the turn of events but we do not share that sentiment. Still recommended viewing nonetheless.

Now streaming on Netflix.

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