Scen.: Chu T’ien-wen. F.: Chen Kun-hao. M.: Liao Ching-sung. Scgf.: Tsai Cheng-pin. Mus.: Li Tsung-sheng. Int.: Doze Niu (Cheng-tse), To Tsung-hua, Lin Hsiu-ling, Chang Shih, Yang Li-yin, Chang Shun-fang. Prod.: Evergreen Film Company. DCP. D.: 99’. Col.
I saw Rocco e i suoi fratelli when it was first released. The Boys from Fengkuei came out in the heyday of Taiwanese commercial cinema. Myself and Edward Yang would spend a lot of time during that period discussing Italian Neorealism, the New German Cinema, the French New Wave… We were really influenced by these New Cinema movements, which informed The Boys from Fengkuei. That scene was shot in Taipei – the interiors, I mean – and we asked the cinema to play something. That was the film they had there that day.
Hou Hsiao-hsien, in Hou Hsiao-Hsien: ‘There were a lot of gangs where I grew up’, interview by Matthew Thrift, in “Little White Lies”, 21 January 2016
What I was immediately certain of was that Hou was an outsider – he was not part of the gang, he was not in on the conversation, or anything like that. There was simply the strength of a film, The Boys from Fengkuei, which had emerged and imposed itself for good reasons. In the cinema, such reasons are always metaphysical in nature. Hou’s style – at once intuitive, powerful and contemplative, at a remove from any attempts at seduction, and able to use sheer brute force to head towards the essential and nothing but the essential – boded extremely well for Chinese cinema. Starting from zero, he was able to bring a veritable revolution in its manner of apprehending and regarding the world, and, overcoming the impasses of classicism and imported modernism, he defined the possibility of a new and original point of view on the contemporary world.
Olivier Assayas, in Taiwan Film Panorama, Cinematek, Bruxelles 2016