So I just finished watching The Terrorizers and it was all okay when it wasn't being really good; that said, it felt like it put its best foot forward, and then not very often after that.
The Terrorizers was a 1987 Taiwanese, post-modern film which followed the interwoven stories of its main characters, often in pairs: chiefly a doctor and his novelist wife, a photographer from the mainland, and a Eurasian woman drifting with criminals. The characters all tend to fall in and out of love at least once in each of their respective stories and in doing so their stories become only more introspective. Though rather than set everything against a Romantic Comedy backdrop, the overtones of the whole thing remain serious all throughout, when not completely sobering. Think Cameron Crowe's SinglesÂ by way of Kauffman's Synecdoche, New York.
While the film's ability to take itself seriously makes it much more sincere and believable than Singles, I'm afraid "sobering" is about where the comparisons to Synecdoche, New York end. It deals with real issues that we all face, but in a much more detached manner, always following events from afar, and splitting its script between multiple characters experiencing very different things.
The beginning of the film really and truly gave me high hopes, and a lot of its qualities remained through to the end, namely the use of silence surrounding suffering: police brutality, broken limbs, even emotional suffering are all made silent even when there is background audio from all around it. Shot composition is used very effectively in several instances and for a movie that takes place almost exclusively indoors, I was glad that it managed to create a coherent sense of scene geometry through small tricks (i.e. placing a bright, red pringles can on the bookshelf in one shot so that when the camera faces a completely different wall, that same can in the corner helps establish where in the "space" things are taking place).
It began to suffer, however, as characters were introduced and its efforts were split, and it's a trap that several films wind up falling into, truthfully. While none of the characters felt "bad", some certainly felt stronger than others. The photographer basically dominates the opening of the film, tapers off towards the second act, and is gone by the end when the story instead starts focusing only on the Doctor, for example. Some characters do return, and frankly making the film about any one of the main characters could have proven effective in delivering a powerful narrative, rather than tease at more fully fledged stories behind others. It's a victim of its own good character writing in the sense that the more it focuses on the doctor towards the end, the more I wish the other characters that I enjoyed so much would return, but they never really do in earnest.
Truthfully, after watching it once, I decided against watching it again for a fuller analysis, and felt more inclined to just give some thoughts on it. It did well enough to deserve some praise, and there was truly nothing in it that was just "bad", and for that, I want to at least give it a 7 out 10 and maybe recommend it for anyone who wants something interesting and digestible.