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Daughter of the Nile
Daughter of the Nile is a film from acclaimed filmmaker Hsiao-Hsien Hou (The Assassin) and produced by Wen-jen Lu. This is an early work from the acclaimed director. The story of the film revolves around the lives of two young Taiwanese youth: Lin Hsiao-yang (Lin Yang) and her brother Lin-Hsiao-fang (Jack Kao) as they spend their lives in school and intertwined with the Taipei underworld.
Lin Hsiao-yang attempts to take care of the family and her younger siblings while things spiral out of control as Lin-Hsiao-fang falls deeper into the criminal underworld. Despite the darker undertones, the story is an offbeat, strange, and quirky look at young lives in Taiwan and the disenfranchisement of these youth. The story cuts back and forth between the stories of these central characters and that of their other siblings and grandfather (Tian-Lu Li).
Though the film is set against the backdrop of the Taipei gangster underworld, the central focus of the story is focused on being a character study of these young characters: the film focuses on their time in school, at work (inside a KFC, no less), and hanging out at their home. It's a bit of a offbeat film which has a lot of goofy humor and sly comedic elements that one might not expect.
When the film does get more serious at times, it surprises, and elevates the material. Yet the film is mostly fun for its carefree sense of humor. There's an odd school centered scene with a long fart joke which carries on throughout the sequence and feels every bit as quirky as what one might find in early 1990's indie American cinema.
The cinematography by Huai-en Chen (Island Etude, A Life that Sings) is one of the best things about the film's production. This is gorgeously filmed. The effort done on the photography is superb and adds much to the film with its neon colors and hues. The screenplay by Tien-wen Chu (Good Men, Good Women, The Assassin), from a story written by Chien-Ho Huang (A City of Sadness) and Angelika Wang, is unique and offbeat and keeps the focus on the characters and their relationships more-so than the plot.
Directed by Hsiao-Hsien Hou (The Assassin, Three Times), who imbues the film with a uniquely offbeat energy, Daughter of the Nile is an example of a quirky character-study and slice of life film with a darker backdrop. Though the film does veer into some more serious subject matters at times, the film is ultimately about struggles of youth and might even bring to mind films like Clerks, Grease, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. An under the radar film, Daughter of the Nile is a surprising entry in the teen coming-of-age genre that demonstrates how the confusion of youth knows no cultural barriers.
Daughter of the Nile arrives on Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group with an incredible 4K restored video presentation in the original 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. This is a remarkable transfer of the film with great clarity and natural filmic wonder. The print quality for this release is superb and will not disappoint fans of classic foreign cinema. From the opening credits to the end of the film, the new 4K restoration is truly stunning.
Unlike the stunning PQ presentation, the audio on Daughter of the Nile leaves a lot to be desired. This is, without a doubt, one of the absolute worst sounding Blu-ray releases which I have ever heard or reviewed. It features a often crackling, hissy, and distorted sounding audio. It's awful sounding clarity wise and it made the experience less enjoyable despite the beautiful quality of the video restoration on this release.
Whether this lackluster audio was due to a lack of better available source materials (which seems probable) or if it was just poor restoration efforts, I'm unsure. Regardless, it's a bad sounding release (and there's no note with the booklet to indicate any reason for the poor audio). It's frequently cringe-worthy. The dialogue can be understood still but the experience of listening to this movie with such terribly scratchy, hissy audio is a major disappointment and a detriment to the overall quality of this release.
English subtitles are provided.
Inside of the case is a printed booklet, featuring photographs and credits for the film.
Audio Commentary by film scholar Richard Suchenski
New interview with Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns (HD, 42 min.) explores both the career of the filmmaker and the film Daughter of the Nile.
Original Theatrical Trailer
Daughter of the Nile is a quirky comedy-drama from director Hsiao-Hsien Hou. It's got some impressive performances from leads Lin Yang and Jack Kao. It's offbeat sensibilities help it stand out from the crowd. With an independent spirit, Daughter of the Nile is a overlooked film which is worth checking out. Cohen Media Group's Blu-ray release offers an incredible video presentation but problematic audio. For those that can overlook the terrible sound quality the release comes recommended on the merits of the film and the 4K restoration.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.