Refusing to take the College Entrance Exam, Xiao-Kang drops out of cram school and hangs around Ximending, spending all his time in a video arcade. One day he meets A-Ze and A-Bin, who idle around like him and make a living selling stolen goods. Out of curiosity and admiration, Xiao-Kang stalks them...(Read more)
Refusing to take the College Entrance Exam, Xiao-Kang drops out of cram school and hangs around Ximending, spending all his time in a video arcade. One day he meets A-Ze and A-Bin, who idle around like him and make a living selling stolen goods. Out of curiosity and admiration, Xiao-Kang stalks them and finds that A-Ze has a hot girlfriend A-Gui. He then follows them to a skating rink then to a love hotel. An envious Xiao-Kang decides to play tricks on them until an unexpected violent accident occurs. Xiao-Kang loses track of them and returns home, only to find himself locked out by his furious parents. He has nowhere to go but to return to Ximending….
This is Tsai Ming-Liang’s first full-length feature film, which establishes the aesthetics of Tsai’s future films: extreme realism, long takes, deep focus and formalistic framing, anti-narrative, blank shots, spare dialogues; damp, dark, and ruins-like modern city scape; isolated and alienated individuals; nihilistic and doomsday atmosphere; the water metaphor; people full of desires seen engaged in eating, drinking, and excreting. In this film, even family members lack communication and connection. Only through food can parents demonstrate affection for children. They live separate lives under the same roof. From this film on, “Xiao-Kang’s family” became a staple in Tsai’s films and provided a prototype for the underclass nuclear-family in modern society, a constant theme in Tsai’s works. The three actors form Tsai’s indispensable cast. Xiao-Kang runs away from home and skips classes, which makes this film Tsai’s version of The 400 Blows (1959), perhaps the most influential film in Tsai’s career. Critics have pointed out that the Tsai/ Xiao-Kang combination parallels, if not rivals the Truffaut/Léaud duo in world film history.
In this film Tsai contrasts the street scenes of the cram schools district with those of Ximending, a favorite area for teenagers in Taipei, sharply portraying the adolescent life in Taiwan. Ximending, located in the western district of the city, is in decay and is always under re-construction. Thus, Tsai’s Taipei looks like a giant construction site, distinct from the Taipei in Taiwan New Cinema, in particular Edward Yang’s modernist and bourgeois Taipei. The Chinese title of the film refers to a teenage god in Chinese mythology, who rebels against his father. Rebelliousness is a permanent mark of Tsai’s aggressive style: anti-Hollywood and anti-narrative; gazing at bodies and magnifying bodily activities, turning them upside down and into sacred rituals; questioning, dismantling, and willfully reassembling home/family and the nation. The depiction of gays, bi-sexuality, and father-son incest in his film fiercely attacks Chinese traditional ethics and the hegemony of heterosexual patriarchy.
DVD source：Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C.
|Actors：||LEE Kang-Sheng, MIAO Tien, LU Yi-Ching, CHEN Chao-Jung, WANG Yu-Wen|
|Excluded for public screenings：||Licensed to all regions except: Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Europe, America, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean|
This license of non-profit screenings has expired in 2016.
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Central Motion Picture Corporation
1992 Golden Horse Awards, Best Original Film Score Award
1993 Tokyo International Film Festival, Bronze Award
1993 Nantes Three Continents Festival, Best Debut Feature Film Award
1993 Torino Film Festival, Best Film Award
1994 Singapore International Film Festival, Special Jury Prize