Monga (2010)

Monga sputters a bit when it enters its third act. Some narrative points are predictable and labored, and the film runs a bit too long at two hours plus. Still, by the time Monga trends towards convention, the film has earned the goodwill to satisfy and even impress. The Wanhua District setting helps; the storied location is home to Taipei's oldest temple, possesses numerous bustling night markets, and was formerly the city's red light district. Monga gives the district a distinct personality, making it the perfect cultural backdrop for these familiar characters and their well-worn struggles. Honor, friendship, family, loyalty and brotherhood – these themes are incredibly common for this genre, but Monga allows them the appearance of freshness. Perhaps after the third or fourth iteration of this new style Taiwan gangster film, Monga won't impress as greatly. Right now, however, Monga sharply and entertainingly gives audiences something that feels like a discovery. It's a pretty good feeling. (Kozo 2010)

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