Directed by Mei-Juin CHEN
with Jack KAO & Ally CHIU
Music by LIM Giong (The Assassin)
105 min/ In Mandarin and Taiwanese with Chinese and English subtitles
After getting into trouble with a local bully, teenage Shaowu is sent to Taipei to live with her estranged gangster father, Keigo. He quickly takes to being a father and sets out go straight, but soon he is dragged back into the criminal world by corruption and a quest for vengeance that will decide both of their fates.
“…a lovely little film.” - Hollywood Reporter
“A rare gem, that flips the script – putting the gangland conflict in service of a close family dynamic, rather than having things the other way around.” - Film-Book.com
“The heart of the movie is the bond between the two (gangster father and his daughter) and the veteran Kao and the ingénue Chiu bring it to life. Chiu and Kao have a very realistic relationship and the two have a chemistry that would be enviable in almost any film.” - Cinema365
“…one of the most relatable stories of parent-child strife I’ve ever seen. THE GANGSTER’S DAUGHTER is a beautiful meditation on how we are molded, for better or worse, by the generations that came before us.” - Comicsverse
New York Asian Film Festival (Official Competition)
Chicago Asian Pop-Up Cinema (Opening Film, Season V)
UCLA Film Archive, Taiwan Film Biennial (Opening Film)
Women Make Waves Film Festival (Official Competition)
Hawaii International Film Festival
Asian Crime Family Women
The inspiration for this film comes from an encounter I had when I was in college in Taiwan. It was summer and my boyfriend and I decided to hit the road on his motorcycle to explore the southern half of the island. At one point, the motorcycle broke down, stranding us in lush green mountains in the middle of nowhere. The sun began to go down and it looked like we might have to spend the night there. Then a car came into view. It pulled up beside us –a huge gold Cadillac, definitely not the kind of car you saw every day in Taiwan. The power window went down and the driver poked his head out. He was dressed in black with dark sunglasses and a large diamond ring that gleamed on his finger. You knew right away he didn’t sell insurance for a living. Guys like him were fixtures in Taipei. “Need a ride?” he asked. We got in. In the passenger seat was his teenage daughter. In her school uniform, she looked like anyone ordinary Taiwanese kid. They didn’t say much during the ride – neither did we -- but they seemed very happy together.
I imagine them as Keigo and Shaowu, the two main characters of my film, father and daughter. Only one thing is different -- twenty years have passed and a new world has taken shape in which the old codes of conduct that once governed the underworld have begun to yield. Activities that were once considered unthinkable, such as drug trafficking, are now seen simply as business opportunities, part of the overall trend toward globalized commerce. In this context, Keigo is a tragic figure, steeped in the values of a disappearing way of life, unwilling to embrace the new realities.
Growing up in Taiwan, I was fascinated by this dying world. It was an open secret in my family that one of my uncles was a gangster. His line of work seemed far more interesting to me than that of my father, an ordinary businessman. I romanticized it. Also, as a women, I was quite intrigued by the customs and unwritten rules of this very male and traditional preserve. It was like another country. That part of me is in Shaowu, an outsider who is drawn to her father’s world and ultimately granted entry to it.
Finally, there is Taiwan. The new wave of Taiwanese filmmakers who came onto the scene in the 1980s telling stories about everyday life on the island are heroes of mine – Hou Hsiao Hsien, Edward Yang and others. Their emphasis on realism is one of the reasons I became a documentary filmmaker, and it guided my approach to this film, my first fiction feature. I hope I have captured some of their spirit in my own portrayal of Taiwan, from the sorghum fields of Kinmen to the bustling back alleys of Taipei.