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The Magician On The Skywalk (2021) (DVD) (Ep. 1-11) (End) (Taiwan Version)
Yang Da Zheng (Actor) | Lu Yi En (Actor) | Luo Shi Qi (Actor) | Lin Jie Yi (Actor)
The Magician On The Skywalk (2021) (DVD) (Ep. 1-11) (End) (Taiwan Version)
Life, death and disappearance in 1980s Taipei
October 29, 2021 Picked By Sanwei See all this editor's picks
Chunghwa Market was an expansive integrated shopping mall located in Taipei's Ximending area from 1961 to 1992, when it was closed to make way for urban redevelopment. A skywalk over an intersection of roads carried foot traffic directly to the second level of Chunghwa Market, which bustled with people and activity as one of the city's most popular landmarks. This shopping market of yesteryear serves as the setting of the acclaimed 2021 PTS drama The Magician on the Skywalk, which won Best Television Series, Best Director and other prizes at the 56th Golden Bell Awards.

Yang Ye Che, who honed his talent for telling human stories at PTS in the 2000s before going on to direct feature films like GF*BF and The Bold, The Corrupt, and the Beautiful, returns to the public broadcaster to helm the ambitious and artistic The Magician on the Skywalk. The ten-episode series transports audiences back to the 1980s during the heyday of Chunghwa Market, which is lovingly recreated through special effects and detailed sets. The Magician on the Skywalk is based on Wu Ming Yi's same-titled novel, and follows the book's structure of interrelated short stories about the children of shop owners as they play, fight, dream and grow up in Chunghwa Market.

Kaiser Chuang plays the titular magician, a mysterious, raggedy-haired man who sets up shop on the skywalk and fatefully crosses paths with various people at the mall. This magical character particularly catches the curiosity of the chatty, bratty Chen Ming Sheng (Li Yi Qiao), whose family runs a shoe shop. Nicknamed Xiao Bu Dian ("little guy"), the young boy is the true protagonist of the drama, offering a child's eye view of this whimsically imaginative yet realistically troubled world.

The Magician on the Skywalk often seems fun, warm and fanciful with its nostalgia-tinged setting, bickering families and mischievous children running around and raising ruckus. But an unmistakable feeling of melancholy and loss runs throughout the series. Xiao Bu Dian is particularly obsessed with the urban legend of Chunghwa Market's 99th floor, a place that people disappear to. Whether it's other tenants and children or his own older brother, many people around him seem to disappear without explanation. The kids attribute disappearances and reappearances to magic, miracles and mysteries, but adult conversations and telling interactions reveal the troubles and tragedy that are being distilled through a child's hazy understanding of the world.

Different stories about the various people and encounters of Chunghwa Market allude to the worries and whereabouts of those who disappear – the fear and suppression of the White Terror era, the splintering of families, struggles over gender identity and sexual orientation, and unspeakable losses that leave a hole in the community. Eventually, even Xiao Bu Dian himself disappears in an unexpected way that references Hou Hsiao Hsien's Dust in the Wind.

At times moving, at times puckish and at times utterly heartbreaking, Magician on the Skywalk presents a thoughtful and wistful window into the past. The nostalgic aura of magical realism and the childhood stories of families and neighbors resonate with palpable warmth while mediating the loss and longing of a time and place that has disappeared.

  • Region & Language: Hong Kong United States - English
  • *Reference Currency: No Reference Currency
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