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Rebels of the Neon God (1992)

Cast: Wang Yu-Wen, Wang Yu-Wen
Director: Tsai Ming-Liang, Tsai Ming-Liang
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Fox Lorber
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Taiwan, Quest, Revenge
Running Time: 106 min.
Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English
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Hsiao Kang is a cab driver's son, driven to study by his parents, who are ambitious for him to go to college. One day, the family cab is vandalized by some kids on motorbikes while Hsiao Kang is watching. One day, he recognizes the culprits, and drops out of his college preparatory after-school cramming sessions to pursue them and get revenge. The vandals are Ah-tzu, with a permanently flooded apartment, and his brother Ah-bing and Ah-bing's girlfriend Ah Kuei. They are petty thieves of telephone boxes and computer parts. The seedy side of Taipei which is favored by teen rebels is well-screened in this action drama, and might almost qualify as a fifth character. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Little dialogue but good portrayal of lonely and despairing lives by HChang July 29, 2006 - 1:15 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
After viewing three of director Tsai Ming Liang's films ("What Time is it There?", "Vive L'amour"), I think I can say he's very adept at portraying the paradox of lonely lives in a bustling city. Typical of many Tsai movies, Rebel of the Neon God has little dialogue but is generous with sounds of the surrounding environment - screaming scooters, trickling water, opening elevator doors. In fact, one of the main characters, Hsiao-Kang, probably speaks no more than five lines throughout the movie. However, rather than perceiving this as poor dialogue, for me, this actually strengthens the feeling of loneliness in the characters in a seemingly busy city.

Rebel of the Neon God follows two friends, (or brothers, I'm not sure), Ah Bin and Ah Tze, who eke out a living by stealing from phone booths and other petty theft. When they're not out on a heist, they while their time away in the video game arcade. Hsiao Kang, played by Lee Kang-Sheng who incidentally, is Hsiao Kang in other Tsai films, is an only child. His parents have high hopes for him and have enrolled him in prep courses for college entrance exams. But Hsiao Kang doesn't seem happy; he's not really all that into studying and he doesn't get along with his dad. After his dad's cab is damaged by Ah Tze during an altercation at an intersection, Hsiao Kang begins to stalk Ah Bin and Ah Tze. He quits prep course and does not return home for several days as he follows Ah Bin and Ah Tze around Taipei. It was fun to watch Hsiao Kang bounce up and down on his bed as he watch Ah Tze fume over the product of his revenge for vandalism of his father's cab. It is during the stalking and this act that you realize, perhaps Hsiao Kang does care for his old man after all.

Like many Taiwanese movies that make it to international film festivals, Rebel of the Neon God is not well known in Taiwan. Compared to mainstream Taiwanese flicks, this movie would probably be considered dull. It certainly is not a movie for anyone who wants intelligent dialog, action, or even a good song - there's only one tune throughout the entire film. I don't recommend this movie to anyone who hasn't stepped beyond mainstream movies but I do recommend it for those who have a more eclectic taste.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.81)
42 Votes
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