Daughter of the Nile is a Taiwanese film, first released in 1987 and has enjoyed a 4K restoration, courtesy of the Masters of Cinema Collection #165. It was directed by Hou Hsiao – Hsien (The Assassin, Three Times, Flight of the Red Balloon) and is presented here in the original Mandarin, with English subtitles. It is based on the personal experiences of screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen (Millennium Mambo, Taipei Story).
Lin Hsiao-Yang (Lin Yang – Qi Wang, Xin A Li Ba Ba) is a young girl, struggling to survive against the seedy and dangerous backdrop of 1980’s Taipei. Her father is always away with work and following the death of her older brother in a car crash and the subsequent loss of her mother to cancer, she is struggling to hold together the rest of her little family.
Life is difficult in Taipei and her remaining brother (Jack Kao – Unbeatable, Millennium Mambo) has got himself mixed up with a bad crowd. He spends his nights robbing innocent people with a wrench, while her younger sister has turned to stealing. She is caught between juggling her job at KFC with night school and the needs of her family.
Daughter of the Nile is deceptively titled, implying that she finds escape imagining herself to be a character in her favourite Manga when in fact it is briefly mentioned at best and does nothing to alleviate the dreariness.
It is dated, dark and dismal on just about every level. The vast majority of the film revolves around people talking on enormous phones and then shooting each other and it’s so difficult to follow that it’s impossible to feel any kind of empathy towards the characters. It’s greatest achievement was in the product placement, which left me with a serious craving for fried chicken.
If you’re interested in the state of Taiwanese society in the eighties then this is probably the film you’ve always waited for. If not then it’s probably not for you.
Daughter of the Nile is available to buy now on Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD