When you’ve waited nine years since a director’s last proper feature, you’d be forgiven for expecting something a little special. Not Taiwanese filmmaker Yee Chih-yen, the director of Blue Gate Crossing, who instead chooses simplicity over flamboyant spectacular. Salute! Sun Yat-sen is an unusual mix of slapstick comedy, heist movie and social commentary. There are very few people who make films about teens like he does and a beauty in his tales.
Lefty (Zhan Huai-ting) can’t pay his school fees. Neither can his friends. Sky (Matthew Wei) needs the money to pay for a graduation trip. When they both set their sights on a unused bronze statue a battle of wits ensues. Even the best laid plans often turn to dust and these two adolescents may not have fully thought this through.
There’s something rather enchanting about Salute! Sun Yat-sen. It has the spirit of an Ealing comedy and also brings to mind One of our Dinosaurs is Missing. Whilst it’s slapstick and sweet there’s a political subtext lurking underneath. It is not by chance that the statue in question is that of Dr Sun, a Taiwanese revolutionary hero, and popular to this day. Yee makes a firm statement about the levels of poverty and inequality in his homeland, and does so with a loving hand.
Salute! Sun Yat-sen is released on DVD by Facet Film Distribution on Monday.