It pays homage to 'Blow Up', but the disjointed narrative doesn't really engage. There is one scene that I liked. Spoiler. The Eurasian woman terrorizer is caught stealing from a man. He starts to get very cocky about it and takes off his belt to beat her with it. He lights a cigarette and she comes at him like a tiger and stabs the fool. Wipes the smirk off his face.
It took two viewings, with a headache in between, to understand this film. But few headaches are as worth having. While not as good as Yi Yi or Brighter Summer Day—in fact, it seems purposefully incomplete—it's still stunning how Yang can make a film about so many things at once, with a cast of characters that are always handled tenderly even when they're at their most monstrous.
Intelligent and engrossing - only "urban angst" is far from my favorite theme. Consoling it may be to say to oneself that New York/Paris/Tokyo/Taipei is the center of intelligence and culture while all the rest is the provinces, but life in the modern megalopolis is bound the cripple the spirit, ain't no wonder folk shoot up their offices or go all Taxi Driver.
Like most of Yang's films, The Terrorisers is a deeply religious reflection on the secession of Taiwan from China; a dark and melancholic vision of humanity and its desperate search to find some semblance of an elusive, impermanent inner peace within the hollowed and broken psyches of a dislocated people.
10 - Intertwined tales of characters with conflicting interests and goals set against the connected, hyperglobalized urban backdrop of modern Taipei and given a vivid, almost oppressive sense of place by Yang's singular visual sensibilities. A perfect "visual puzzle", very much worthy of the term.
From Western archetypes, Yang weaves allusions to Zhuangzi’s butterfly dream with daoist, meta-layered meditations in critique of feminism and miscommunication amidst modern malaise. The terrorist is not he who adorns physical weaponry but the everyday citizen committing atrocities in the urban jungle to his fellow man, impervious to conscience and oblivious to those pulling the strings.