Defying by his parents, Hsiao Kang drops out of the local crammer to head for the bright lights of downtown Taipei. He falls in with Ah Tze, a pretty hood and their relationships is a confused mixture of hero-worship and rivalry that soon leads to trouble.
Tsai Ming-Liang follows his trademark ‘pondering static camera’ (“Rebels of the Neon God”, “The River”, “The Hole” and “Vive L’Amour” ) with his fifth feature film, “What Time is it There?”. His unconventional style will deter many cinema goers who might envisage something more easily penetrable, perhaps requiring less speculation. In a pure minimalist vein, Tsai uses no music (aside from “The 400 Blows” theme played sparingly). There is no cinematographic panning shots… no camera movement for each take. Each scene is a single static shot. There are almost no close-ups. There are extremely long stretches without any dialogue. Hopefully, this does not send you running in the other direction because it is indeed a wonderful viewing experience touching upon many important modern emotional themes.
From Film Journal International:
By Ethan Alter
When you spend as much time in movie theatres as film critics and serious movie buffs do, you can’t help but wonder whether those spaces possess an inner life. What happens after the last show when the lights are turned off, the doors are locked and everybody goes home? Particularly in an older theatre, it’s easy to imagine a ghostly audience materializing in the empty auditorium as the projector flickers to life. That’s the setting evoked in Tsai Ming-liang’s latest curiosity, Goodbye, Dragon Inn. Unfolding entirely in a rundown movie theatre that’s closing its doors following the evening’s final show, the film is a slow, almost annoyingly deliberate piece of work that nevertheless lingers in your mind long after the credits roll. Continue reading
Plot: The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who’s stolen the key and uses the apartment as a retreat.
(From Allmovie Guide)
“At the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, this Taiwanese-French drama won a FIPRESCI Award, given by international critics. Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang previously won top awards for his 1994 Vive l’amour (at Venice) and 1996 The River (at Berlin). High strangeness is evident in the tale, originally initiated as part of the French TV series of one-hour end-of-millennium dramas. As an epidemic spreads through Taipei, virus victims display odd symptoms. A man (Lee Kang-sheng) who runs a food store with few customers lives in a shabby building in a quarantined section, and a woman (Yang Kuei-mei) in the same building has a withdrawn existence. A plumber, checking a leak, makes a hole in the man’s floor and leaves; the man then observes his neighbors through the hole. The film features four musical fantasy sequences that recall Hong Kong musical films of the ’50s.” — Bhob Stewart Continue reading
At the end of the school semester, Bao is sent to Quchi to be with his recently widowed grandfather because his parents are considering a divorce. Depressed and sullen, he has to transfer to a small elementary school where he discovers that he shares the nickname, “Bear”, with a girl in his class.
The one-armed boxer is stalked by a vengeful flying guillotine expert, after his disciples were killed in the first ‘One-Armed Boxer’ film. But as the flying guillotine master is blind, he starts his quest by becoming a serial killer of one-armed men. Meanwhile, the one-armed boxer is running a martial arts school, where he teaches his pupils to control their breath so they can run up walls and along ceilings. And there’s an Indian fakir whose arms can extend until they’re ten feet long. As you may have gathered, a rational plot summary is pretty pointless – but rest assured there are epic martial arts battles and ludicrously inspired moments galore.
If you liked the “street fighter” or “mortal kombat” games, this movie is for you. Featuring various odd fighting style competetion, along with a “one-armed” hero, this is a classic that all kung-fu fans should see. Continue reading