The Trigger

The Trigger


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Seeking to protect his pregnant wife, gangster Gui decides to give himself up to the authorities, only to find his act of self-sacrifice results in the loss of everything to less scrupulous rivals.

On his release from prison, Gui opens a small cafe. He gives a job and place to stay to Hong, a younger ex-con, who inadvertently found himself mixed up in the kidnapping of a high-ranking official's stepdaughter.

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But Gui has not completely abandoned his past life, as he agrees to undertake one last hit. Things become complicated when Hong discovers the gun and falls in with his erstwhile victim, Coco, a teen prostitute, who wants her abusive stepfather killed...

Though competently made and performed, this Taiwanese film fails to establish a coherent identity and tone of its own. Director Alex Yang looks to have intended to fashion a low-key, character-driven piece, reminiscent of his long-term associate/mentor Edward Yang (no relation), but fatally undermines this by including genre staples like the enigmatic hitman that, in turn, he cannot make work in a straight dramatic and realistic context.

On this showing the director has a talent for both composition and dialogue, but needs to decide whether he's aiming for the popular audience or the critics and festival programmers. As it is, there's not enough here to consistently sustain interest, a situation not helped by the fact that the opening five minutes misleadingly contain more action than the next hour, nor by an elliptical narrative that declines to establish who the main characters are and how they relate to one another until halfway through.

Judging by his work here, two or three films down the line, Alex Yang will come of age as a director. Can you wait that long?

Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2003
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An old Taiwanese gangster agrees on one last hit, which involves a young ex-con, trying to go straight.

Director: Alex Yang

Writer: Weibang Ma-Xu

Starring: Ming Ran Ni, Kelly Ko, Xing Hong Cai, Hui Ni Xu, Chuan Zheng Tao, Qi Yang, Ya Xuan Li, Sima san san, Qi Dong You, May Yun You

Year: 2002

Runtime: 103 minutes

Country: Taiwan


EIFF 2003

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