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Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003)

Cast: Lee Kang-Sheng, Lee Kang-Sheng, Chen Shiang-Chyi, more...
Director: Tsai Ming-Liang, Tsai Ming-Liang
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Fox Lorber
Genre: Foreign, Taiwan
Running Time: 83 min.
Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

In a cavernous movie palace, King Hu's classic 1968 film Dragon Inn plays for a sparse crowd. As the movie progresses, the ticket-taker makes dinner, cleans the bathroom, and checks in on the projectionist. Audience members wander in and out, occasionally interacting in the restroom or the vast hallways that surround the theater proper. Minimally plotted, Tsai Ming-Liang's film is a poetic, dryly humorous portrait of a place and its denizens, and an homage to a director who influenced his career. ~ Tom Vick, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Stillness Is Beautiful by JGerow March 22, 2005 - 11:39 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
I have to disagree with the other two posted reviews of Tsai Ming-Liang's Goodbye, Dragon Inn. The complaint that the characters are dead or acting like zombies actually gets at the substance of what the film is about. This is a haunted old movie palace, showing King Hu's classic martial arts film Dragon Inn for the last time before shutting its doors. The audience and theater employees alike may be ghosts, as suggested by the appearance of two of Dragon Inn's aging stars near the end of the film, watching their younger selves in the film within the film. Tsai's trademark stationary camera frequently contrasts with the frenetic action taking place on the movie screen.

I also don't find the film humorless. The long cruising scene at the row of urinals is full of subtle humor, as is the sequence of the obnoxious woman in the balcony tormenting another spectator by cracking nuts. In short, Tsai finds the beauty, the pain and the absurdity of everyday existence by focusing intently on all the little dramas being played out in this self-contained world.

If you require constant narrative action and a lot of dialogue, don't see this film. However, if you have the patience to appreciate the beauty in stillness, you will be amply rewarded.

As a major bonus, the disc contains Tsai's rarely-shown short film, The Skywalk Is Gone, which is a heartbreaking and funny mini-sequel to his masterpiece, What Time Is It There?

Dead World by talltale February 26, 2005 - 8:34 AM PST
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
With GOODBYE DRAGON INN, Tsai Ming-Liang officially becomes the new George Romero, albeit a much quieter version. The world of his latest film to reach U.S. shores is dead, although its characters, who move around like zombies, don't appear to realize this.

Taking place in a derelict movie house about to shutter, and in which the classic being screened is an old martial arts movie of the same title, "Goodbye" is a film in which virtually all the dialog comes from the movie-within-the-movie. I counted only two snatches of talk between the "real" characters: a young man with the fellow he is cruising, and a older man with his "teacher," both of whom were most likely actors in the movie they have just viewed again as old men. This latter scene (and the moments preceding it) might have some some real emotion attached, if this Tsai guy had any interest in life. But no, he is clearly of the mind that it's all over for all of us (or at least those of us in Taiwan).

The director's insistence on leaving his camera stationery, as though he or it had not yet learned to move--and then having "life" simply proceed (or not) in front of that camera--can drive one increasingly nuts and clamoring for the fast-forward button. I can only surmise that the many critics who rave about this film prefer an obvious, plodding style and composition over even minimal content. Note to aficionados: that special crock-pot/thermos featured so prominently in earlier films ("Rebels of the Neon God," "What Time Is It There?") makes a guest appearance here, too. It has only two short scenes, but manages to convey nearly as much thought and feeling as do the humans wandering around.

Takes Slow Well Past the Limit by autarch February 14, 2005 - 11:43 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
I'm a big fan of Tsai Ming-Liang, and I've seen all his other films, so I knew what to expect. A very slot plot, lots of static shots, uncommunicative characters.

In his previous films, Tsai used these elements to make something interesting, and I think his previous two films (The Hole and What Time Is It There?) both worked quite well. One of the elements in those films that's missing here (besides any motivation for anyone to do anthing) is any humor.

His previous films, despite their dark elements, always have moments of humor, which help a lot. Goodbye, Dragon Inn is missing this.

This film was made along with The Missing, directed by Lee Kang-Sheng, the star of all of Tsai's previous films. That film spans the same period of time as Goodbye, Dragon Inn, and shares some characters. The Missing is a far more interesting film, and you can enjoy it without watching Goodbye, Dragon Inn.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.70)
47 Votes
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