DVD Review: Nina Wu

STUDIO: Film Movement | DIRECTOR: Midi Z | CAST: Wu Ke-Xi, Vivian Sung, Kimi Hsia, Li-Ang Chang, Jen-Shuo Cheng
RELEASE DATE: May 18, 2021 | PRICE: DVD $16.59
BONUSES: behind-the-scenes featurettes
SPECS: NR | 103 min. | Foreign language drama thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | 5.1 Surround Sound/2.0 Stereo | Mandarin with English Subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

If you took elements of Black Swan, mixed them with David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. and added a movie business background, you would get something like Nina Wu, a complex and unsettling psychological thriller not for the easily disturbed.

Directed by acclaimed Myanmar-born born director Midi Z (The Road to Mandalay) , this Taiwanese film was co-written by and stars his frequent collaborator Ke-Xi Wu (Ice Poison). She plays Nina, a young woman unable to make it as an actress who supports herself as a cam-girl on the Internet. A surprise call from her agent leads her to an audition for a spy film, though the agent warns that full frontal nudity will be required for the part.

Competing against seven other actresses, Nina snags the role,  but soon finds herself being sexually exploited by her director and the film’s crew. Or at least, she believes this is the case.

While the experience proves harrowing to her emotional state, Nina is ironically nominated for an acting award that will surely boost her acting career. Just as she’s about to attend the awards ceremony, however, a series of bizarre incidents occur, making her question her emotional state and the impact making the film had on her.

Nina Wu is sorrowful yet riveting thanks to Ke-Xi Wu’s brave, tour-de-force performance. Meanwhile, Midi Z’s keeps the proceedings stylishly cryptic when not paying visual homage to David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick. The story is muddled at times, but the incidents aligned with the #MeToo movement add an extra layer to this effort for audiences to ponder.

Ultimately, Nina Wu is a cinematic statement on how the unsavory, clandestine side of film industry operates–and has operated over the years. But the movie  also shows us how talented but desperate people can be sucked into this world –whether it be  in Taiwan,  Hollywood or anywhere else movies are made.

Buy or Rent Nina Wu

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.