Tien-Lun Yeh’s debut feature, Night Market Hero (Fried Chicken Hero in Mandarin), is a heartwarming story about the battle of an outrageous group of food vendors against political and bureaucratic corruption.
Set in the bustling 888 Night Market in Taipei, the film follows the vendors as they compete to win over customers using taste-offs and beauty contests. A-hwa is their handsome union leader, equally devoted to the market and his grandmother. Under his leadership, little rivalries, unspoken romances, and trivial disputes are all part of the fun; at the end of the day, the biggest question is, “Which is better—chicken or steak?”
But the vendors face larger worries when they learn that a real estate company is planning to build a mall where the market is located. Their livelihoods are at stake, and they realize that they must work together or be pushed out. The 888 vendors work with the media to reveal their stories of hardship and family dreams, hoping to win the hearts of the public and thus save their way of life.
Known for their mouth-watering delicacies, cheap goods, and colourful atmosphere, night markets are a central part of Taiwanese culture. This nostalgic comedy was inspired by the director’s experiences as part of the Night Market Vendor Theatre Troupe and was co-written by his sister, Tan-Ching Yeh. In an effort to make the performances more authentic, the director had the actors learn the skills of traditional night market vendors, like how to deep-fry chicken steaks and how to perfect the art of Chinese facial threading.
– Heather Keung