The delightful comedy Tropical Fish (Redai yu) was the debut of a young Taiwanese director, Chen Yu-shun, and marked his transition from television to movies. The hero of the movie is A-chiang, a junior high schoolboy facing tremendous pressure to pass the annual entrance examination for entrance to senior high school. A-chiang has been struggling with his grades, and he has suffered the many punishments meted out by his disappointed father and strict school teacher.
A-chiang finds refuge in his imagination. Since he was a child, he has been fantasising about a superhero, King Saloman, and his rival, One-Thousand-Year-Old Golden Shark. A-chiang might have read or heard the story a long time ago, or perhaps he just made it up in order to amuse himself, but somewhere down the line he has come to believe in it. Throughout the movie, A-chiang’s daydreams become entangled with reality, creating surreal humour. We see A-chiang (dreaming of himself as King Saloman) accidentally kidnapped by two gangsters (representing the Golden Shark) as a result of his attempt to rescue a little boy, Dao-nan, whom the gangsters meant to kidnap in the first place. Unfortunately, though, Dao-nan’s stepfather does not want him back, so A-chiang becomes the kidnappers, only potential source of ransom money.
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