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Good Men, Good Women (1995)

Hao nan hao nu (original title)
Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as ... See full summary »


Hsiao-Hsien Hou


Bi-Yu Chiang (novel), Bo-Chow Lan (novel) | 1 more credit »
11 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Annie Shizuka Inoh ... Liang Ching / Chiang Bi-Yu
Giong Lim ... Chung Hao-Tung
Jack Kao ... Ah Wei
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ah-Cheng Ah-Cheng
Chia-Hui Bao Chia-Hui Bao
Cheng-Liang Chen Cheng-Liang Chen
Chiao-e Chen Chiao-e Chen
Duan Chen Duan Chen
Fei-Wen Chen Fei-Wen Chen
Hsin Yi Chen
Ming-Chung Chen Ming-Chung Chen
Shu-Fang Chen Shu-Fang Chen
Yi-Shan Chen Yi-Shan Chen
Kuei-Chung Cheng Kuei-Chung Cheng
Ching-Hsia Chiang Ching-Hsia Chiang


Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as well as the past and present as linked by a young woman, Liang Ching. She is being persecuted by an anonymous man who calls her repeatedly but does not speak. He has stolen her diary and faxes her pages daily. Liang is also rehearsing for a new film that is due to go into production soon. The film, entitled Haonan Haonu, is about a couple Chiang Bi-yu and Chung Hao-tung who returns to China to participate in the anti-Japanese movement in China in the 1940s and are arrested as communists when they go back to Taiwan. Written by L.H. Wong <as9401k56@ntuvax.ntu.ac.sg>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Japan | Taiwan

Release Date:

9 December 1995 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Good Men, Good Women See more »

Filming Locations:

Guangdong, China See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Follows A City of Sadness (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

I think I've come up with a useful description of Hou's style
28 October 2001 | by zetesSee all my reviews

It's cinematic masturbation (my term). That's not the same as intellectual masturbation, mind you. It's not that his films are pretentious, per se. Cinematic masturbation is when the filmmakers have no real desire to share their ideas, thoughts, and motives with the audience. It's all done for their own satisfaction. This is opposed to most other filmmakers, who practise cinematic intercourse, by which they call for the audience to participate in their films emotionally and/or intellectually. Hou's not the only cinematic masturbator. Jean-Luc Godard is another one, though nowhere near the level of Hou. I love Godard, but he has a tendency not to let his audience in on what his motive is (and, yes, artists, filmmakers most of all, should have a motive), especially in certain periods of his career. Tarkovsky's Mirror is another maturbatory film - it's far too incomprehensible to anyone who's not Tarkovsky. This is definitely a value judgement. Masturbation, especially on film, is extremely narcissistic. Frankly, it's unfair. Art is primarily for the audience, not the author. Otherwise, there is no point in it.

Take Good Men, Good Women. It's not a bad movie, really. Certainly not Hou's worst. Its main claim to greatness is its excellent cinematography, with some sections in a high-contrast black and white and others in brilliant color. Hou also decides to move his camera a bit and film from different angles. He's finally caught up with D.W. Griffith, although he still falls back on his favorite compositions again and again. The narrative is often great - there are several great individual scenes - but it's ultimately too difficult to follow, which is the exact same complaint I had of my (currently) favorite Hou film, City of Sadness. The plot of Good Men, Good Women revolves around the life of a famous Taiwanese actress (a real person; the film is dedicated to her) and, in the more modern section of the film, an actress who is apparently going to play this former actress in a film about her life (her story is broken into two different time periods). This made sense after I read up on it, but it was really confusing when I was watching it. I assume the same actress played both parts. It's confusing because Hou doesn't want to stress anything: characters are introduced with their backs to us or when they're in shadows. How does he really expect us to recognize and latch onto his characters? He just doesn't care. No, that's not it. It's that he doesn't want us to do so: some pretentious notion that a confusing movie is an artistic one.

If I were to see this film again, I might find it better. It's still cinematic masturbation. If the audience, after reading up on it or seeing it several times, then understands it, well, it only becomes mutual masturbation. Satisfying, but wouldn't you much rather be f*cking?

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