Amphetamine (2010): Gay Drama from Taiwan (LGBTQ–Gay) (Male Nudity; Anal Intercourse)

Following its world premiere in Berlin’s Panorama section, and a closing-night screening at the Hong Kong Film Fest, Scud’s gay drama Amphetamine was extremely controversial in Taiwan and other countries due to its “taboo” subject of homosexuality, male nudity and anal intercourse.

Grade: B

Amphetamine
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Starring Byron Pang and Thomas Price, it’s the story of Chinese fitness trainer, Kafka, who meets Daniel, a business executive.

The explores several themes traditionally regarded as ‘taboo’ in Hong Kong society in an unusually open way, and features full-frontal male nudity in several scenes.

The third of seven publicly released films by Scud, it follows City Without Baseball in 2008, Permanent Residence in 2009, Love Actually… Sucks! in 2011, Voyage in 2013, Utopians in 2015 and Thirty Years of Adonis in 2017. (His eighth film, Naked Nation, is currently in production).

Distributor Zeus Film released the film nationwide with 12 copies. The Taiwanese censorship body has cleared the film for public screenings with no cuts required.

“This is a good demonstration of Taiwan’s openness versus Hong Kong’s tendency towards conservatism,” comments Scud, who self-released his previous feature, Permanent Residence, in Taiwan. “While Taiwan is more open in dealing with homosexuality than Hong Kong, the graphic depiction of such a long-time taboo in my films is actually still new to them.”

Set after the 2008 financial collapse, the story centers on Kafka, a swimming instructor, who meets Daniel, a wealthy investment banker. Daniel is openly gay, and helps Kafka to come out, despite Kafka’s being Catholic and seemingly straight, and they quickly fall in love.

Their relationship is complicated by Kafka’s erratic behavior, stemming from habitual abuse of amphetamine. He is also impotent, due to being violently gang-raped by three men, and sodomised with a wooden stick, after saving their original target, a woman.

After the death of his mother, Kafka goes into a tailspin, raping Daniel’s best friend, Linda, and flooding his and Daniel’s apartment. When Daniel tries to console Linda, the two end up having sex, and Kafka sees them.

Daniel does amphetamine with Kafka, and the latter confesses that despite the problems, he still loves Daniel. Daniel affirms their relationship by asking Kafka to return to Australia with him, where they can get married, but Kafka asks for more time.

At Daniel’s going away party, Kafka is stripped totally naked, painted with silver body paint and calligraphy, and given large, white angel wings to wear. He then jumps off of the balcony of the apartment, attempting to fly, but escapes mostly uninjured.

Kafka escapes from the hospital and looks for Daniel on the bridge they visited on their first date. Distraught and hallucinating from detox, he jumps off the bridge, into the still-frozen water and dies–in his final thoughts, he envisions himself and Daniel swimming together.

Controversy: Anal Intercourse
The level III-rated film met controversy in Hong Kong when the TV and Entertainment Licensing Authority asked for shots of anal intercourse to be cut before public screening.  The

The film screened as the closing film of the 34th Hong Kong Film Fest. Scud protested against the authority’s decision and complained to the Chief Executive Donald Tsang. After his protest, the shots were finally blackened-out but with sound in public screening.

Critical Status:

It was nominated for a Teddy Award at the 2010 Berlin Film Fest.

Cast
Byron Pang as Kafka
Tom Price as Daniel
Linda So as May
Winnie Leung as Linda

An uncut version was internationally released on a Panorama (HK) VCD, DVD and on Blu-ray Disc on in September 2010.

 

Gay Directors, Gay Films? By Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press)