The Bold, The Corrupt, and The Beautiful (2020)

The Bold, The Corrupt and The Beautiful (Mandarin)Director: Yang Ya-Che
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Certification: 15
Starring: Kara Wai, Wu Ke-Xi, Vicky Chen, Alice Ko, Ko Chia Yen, Chen So Li, Showlen Maya

From early on, we cross paths a mysterious pair, who are both elderly and blind. It won't be the only appearance by this duo, who function as musical narrators for the story. It's a neat addition to this Taiwanese crime drama, with its many moving pieces operating to a gorgeous look.

Acting as a mediator between the rich and the powerful, Madame Tang (Kara Wai) makes every decision to benefit her all-female family. When a family close to them is murdered, trouble makes itself known, and the Tang's find themselves changed forever.

Our lead character is Madame Tang, the matriarch of her family who has a welcoming smile and a friendly demeanour to share with all. But masked underneath this facade is a cunning nature, for this figure who's constantly plotting. Through Kara Wai's performance, you believe the character has her eye on the ball, ready with another manoeuvre up her sleeve. Much like Walter White in Breaking Bad, you believe she gets through this by telling herself it's all for her family, but deep down, she relishes every decision made.

Following in her footsteps is Ning, the adult daughter of Madame Tang. Devious and calculating in her own right, she appears to be a true successor to her mother's line of work, but their relationship is a reluctant cooperation. Nina is broken inside, harbouring resentment for her mother, while coping with her own vices. Wu Ke-Xi captures the rebellious nature so well, as it masks how she just wants love. Then there's Chen, the youngest member of the family who acts obedient, observing all that happens in silence. She also feels utterly alone, and Vicky Chen delivers a performance that's quietly powerful.

Serving as writer and director, Yang Ya-Che weaves a thrilling tale of corruption, as one family attempts to keep their heads above water. Where it most excels is the effects of being within such a world, and how it warps their relationships with each other. It's worth mentioning that an element occurs late in the film, which feels like a step too far. Its inclusion feels tied into the coda, which is unnecessary considering all that's happened up to that point. It doesn't lessen the power of that ending, but being so linked with what occurs, you can't help but connect the two. Yet it's to the credit of this story that, even when it may get too convoluted, the character drama keeps a firm grip on your attention.

The Bold, The Corrupt, and The Beautiful is showing in Cineworld theatres from 4th September