A Brighter Summer Day 1991 Criterion CollectionAfter the Communist victory in the civil war of 1949, some 1.3 million refugees from Mainland China came to Taiwan. It was a time when the island was governed by a dictatorship in which all political parties other than the Kuomintang were outlawed, and political opponents were persecuted, jailed, and executed, a continuation of the White Terror campaign launched after the 2/28 incident. Uncertain about their future and shaken by the weakening of family traditions, immigrant teenagers joined street gangs like the Little Park Gang and fought against indigenous island groups such as the 217 to strengthen their sense of security.

Like a lot of kids his age, Si’r (Chang Chen, a future Asian movie star) is self-conscious and often withdrawn. The youngest son of his family, which fled from the mainland to Taipei after the Communist victory in 1949, Si’r struggles academically — he’s been demoted to the less-prestigious night school — and is caught between two warring street gangs, one made up of fellow mainland transplants and the other populated with sons of the locals. Though occasionally bullied by members of each side, Si’r pledges allegiance to neither, staying out of the conflict that consumes his classmates. That is, until he falls, almost accidentally, into a kind of quasi-romance with Ming (Lisa Yang), who’s dating Honey (Lin Hung-ming), absent leader of the Little Park Gang. Before long, this innocent courtship has led him down a path away from his studies and into violence.

Director: Edward Yang
Cast: Chen Chang, Lisa Yang, Kuo-Chu Chang
Country: Taiwan
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance

2xBD50 + 3xDVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC | 03:56:37 | 88 Gb + 20.3 Gb + 3% rec
Language: Mandarin
Subtitles: English


Commentary - in this new audio commentary, film critic Tony Rayns discusses in great detail key motifs of the rather complex plot of A Brighter Summer Day, the history of the feud between the two big gangs as well as the relationships between the principal characters, the socio-political climate in Taiwan and the impact American pop culture has on the gang members, the real murder case that inspired the film, Edward Yang's legacy and directing style, the new Taiwan cinema, etc. Tony Rayns also reads various bits from letters Edward Yang wrote years ago. The commentary was recorded exclusively for Criterion in 2014.

Chang Chen - in this brand new video interview, Chang Chen, who made his acting debut in A Brighter Summer Day, discusses the impact the film had on his life and career, the shooting process and his interactions with director Edward Yang, the period atmosphere the film recreates and the identities of the major characters, etc. The interview was conducted exclusively for Criterion in 2014. In Mandarin, with optional English subtitles. (19 min, 1080p).

Likely Consequence - presented here is an archival recording of a play cowritten and directed by Edward Yang. The play blends social satire and comedy and incorporates some major themes that are present in the director's films. It was staged on March 20, 1992 in Taipei. In Mandarin, with printed English subtitles. (46 min, 1080i).

Our Time, Our Story - this excellent documentary film takes a closer at the socio-cultural environment in Taiwan after the Civil War and the emergence and history of the New Taiwan Cinema movement. Included in it are interviews with directors Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Ko Yi-Cheng and Tsai Ming-Liang, actors Li Li-Chun and Sylvia Chang, and film critic Lan Tsu-Wei, amongst others. The film was produced by Hsiao Chu-Chan in 2002. In Mandarin, with optional English subtitles. (114 min, 1080i).