“The Bold, the Corrupt, and The Beautiful” is a film about a female family, whose act as middle-men in a series of political corruption bribes. Combining a love/hate relationship between family members with complicated money trade, this film is the most ambitious work in Taiwanese cinema for 2017.
The story begins with Madame Tang, who hosts an art exhibition with her family members Tang Ning and Tang Chen. In reality, the exhibition is an excuse for some rich politicians to discuss the bribe. These politicians conspire a land development project, and with Madame Tang’s assistance, every detail should work perfectly, and they can earn billions. However, a homicide disrupts the whole plan, revealing the situation as more complicated than everyone has imagined. Furthermore, the hatred and control relationships in the family also come to surface, bringing more crisis to each of the characters.
The story takes place during 1980-1990, which is the rising era for Taiwan. Countless land plots become cities and factories, which gives opportunities to corrupt politicians and gangsters to make a huge profits. The movie combines several notorious corrupt events in Taiwanese history, like Liu Bong-Yu’s homicide and Lin Yi-Shih’s case. This aspect transforms the film into a sample of the relationships between politicians and merchants , and it’s uncommon to see in mainstream movies.
Besides, the film puts the most focus on the “middle-man” aka “white gloves” , which is almost never discussed in Taiwanese film, as the movie shows the elegant, delicate, scheming and evil parts of being white gloves. In other words, it gives the audience a brand new vision into the bribe system.
The relationship between Madame Tang, Tang Ning and Tang Chen is very interesting to watch. In this film, Madame Tang manages her family like a business, which perfectly fits her work as a middle-man. However, the way she does it makes the whole family tense.
Especially Tang Ning and Tang Chen, they both have someone to love. But they don’t want to let each of the family members know their feelings because they are afraid they will destroy each other. They love each other, so they are willing to maintain this family business. But they all have their own schemes. This kind of love and hate relationship makes their emotion more unpredictable, making it pretty exciting to watch.
The complexity of characters also allows the actresses to explore their acting performance, and it’s a feast for everyone to watch them act. The audience will be easily satisfied with the performances of experienced actresses Kara Hui We Ke-Xi performance. But when it comes to Vicky Chen, it’s a different story. Vicky Chen, who plays Tang Chen, shows so many layers about how a teenage girl feels when she sees the corruption. Viewers can witness her naive and evil parts at the same time through her eyes and movements. She is only 14 years old, but her performance has already achieved the level that only a few great actresses can reach.
Even though the film is really beautiful in many aspects, it still has flaws. The main theme of the family is “control in the name of love.” However, this concept is not depicted as accurately as it could. The audience can understand that Madame Tang wants to control everything, but they can’t feel the love between her and her daughter Tang Ning. Since the control relationship is established through their love, there should be some scenes about their deep and delicate feelings for each other, but the plot fails to convey the idea with Madame Tang, not to mention the stereotype about the aboriginal tribe and Myanmar .
Overall, “The Bold, the Corrupt, and The Beautiful” is an impressive and ambitious work about Taiwanese corruption. The plot, actresses, and production design are the best assets but the film is also too ambitious to tell such a complicated story within 2 hours.