A closer look at Monga starring Ethan Ruan and Mark Chao

Producer Li Lie and director Niu Cheng-Ze refuse to believe that "Taiwan is incapable of making an entertaining commercial movie.” To prove their point, the duo are giving it their all for the new movie Monga (艋舺). They are supported by popular stars like Ethan Ruan, Mark Chao, talented newcomer Rhydian Vaughan, and veteran actor Ma Ru-Long (馬如龍) from the smash hit “Cape No. 7”.

Despite the lack of box office success for locally made movies, executives at the American film company Warner Bros. were impressed after watching the Monga screener. They will be releasing the film during the Chinese New Year, and plan to hold its premiere at the Taipei Hsimenting Hall Ambassador Theater. The release date and screening location are normally reserved for big-budget Hollywood or multi-nationally financed movies. It is a symbolic achievement for a home-grown movie to be given such opportunity. WB will distribute 120 copies to theaters in Taiwan, surpassing the current release of “Sherlock Holmes”.

Actor and director Niu Cheng-Ze

The Taiwanese name Monga refers to the present day Wanhua (萬華) district in Taipei. Its name originated from the Austronesian word "bangca", meaning canoe. Austronesian people often traveled by canoes to trade with settlers in the 1700s, hence "Monga" eventually became the name of the area. During Japanese occupation, the name was changed to Wanhua for its similar pronunciation.

The movie Monga depicts the struggles between gangs in the district during the 80s. The controversial subject matter has triggered protests from local residents, in fear of tarnishing the area's reputation. Producer Li Lie reassured that, like many other stories about gangs all over the world, the story of Monga is fictional. Director Niu added that it is a very hot-blooded movie, and is filled with memories of his youth.

Veteran actor Ma Ru-Long plays the head of the gang and father to Rhydian Vaughan in Monga. His accomplished acting skills derived from decades of experience and background with both sides of the law. Interestingly, director Niu addresses Ma Ru-Long as his brother-in-law because he has dated Mrs. Ma before. Despite their acquaintance, it took numerous tries before Ma Ru-Long said yes to taking the role.

Xi Man-Ning (Xiao Hua's mom in "Miss No Good") plays the mother to make this father and son combo a bit more explainable.

Ma Ru-Long’s “movie son” Rhydian Vaughan returned from the UK to promote Monga during his Christmas break. He was concerned that Rhydian Vaughan has lost weight while studying and working abroad. Ma Ru-Long held his “son’s” face and said, “You must eat more when you are overseas, or else I can't bear (to see you like that).” Rhydian Vaughan was teary eyed after hearing this and responded with a hug.

Fashion sense might change over time but flip flops are always in-style!

Director Niu revealed that he originally intended to cast Ethan Ruan as Ma Ru-Long’s son. However, after Ruan hugely popular role in “My Queen”, director Niu decided to put him in a more complicated role, and cast Rhydian Vaughan for the original. He commented that Vaughan is the most criticized actor out of the group. No matter how he explains a scene, it will end up being something different. While shooting a cry scene, he asked Rhydian Vaughan to think of things that would make him cry. To his surprise, the actor provided him with the ridiculous answer, “I want to cry when I take the subway, because those people (the passengers) can live better.”

More proof that flip-flops go with anything!

As for lead actors Mark Chao and Ethan Ruan, they will meet with Monga fans in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung on January 9th and 10th.

Watch the cast practice with their stunt coordinator Yang Gil-Yeong, his previous work includes the ultra-violent Korean movie “Old Boy”:

Source: Chinatimes, Liberty Times, Mongathemovie.com, wikipedia, CTS
Written by: PA

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