Goodbye, Dragon Inn

"Good"

Goodbye, Dragon Inn Review


It's raining in Taipei again. Anyone familiar with Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang's work knows that his world is a wet one, where rain pours down constantly on decrepit concrete buildings, faucets drip, urinals overflow, and puddles are everywhere.

In Goodbye, Dragon Inn, the decrepit building is the Fu-Ho Theater, a large movie palace that on this, its last night of operation, is showing the 1966 Chinese kung-fu classic Dragon Inn. At first glance, the theater is packed with people. At second glance, it's almost deserted, a strange mystery that leads to the first line of dialog, which comes along more than half an hour into the film: "You know this theater is haunted." What we have here, among other things, is a ghost story, Tsai's take on the belief of superstitious Chinese people that all movie theaters are haunted.

The few people inside the Fu-Ho include the ticket girl (Chen Shiang-Chyi), who walks with a pronounced limp slowly slowly slowly through endless takes and climbs stairs slowly slowly slowly up to the projection room. She hopes to drop off half her steamed bun for the projectionist (Lee Kan-sheng, who appears as some version of the same character in all of Tsai's films). He's not there, however, so she leaves the bun, perhaps as a token of love, and clumps back down the several flights of stairs before doing a patrol of the bathrooms. Believe it or not, this is among the more action-packed of Tsai's films.

In the theater, a young man has come in to seek shelter from the rain but finds himself annoyed by other patrons. There's the little kid making noise, a couple of old men who sit way too close to him, a couple who are sloppily and noisily eating their way through their dinner, a pair of bare feet that pop up from behind and rest on the seat next to him, and a woman who devours a huge pile of seeds, casting the shells onto the floor.

Eventually he makes his way to the bathroom, where three men join him at a row of urinals and they stand there together, in silence, for close to two minutes of screen time. An encounter in a back room reveals that the Fu-Ho may be a gay cruising spot, and it's here that we hear the comment about the theater being haunted.

Eventually the screening of Dragon Inn ends, and in one long static take we watch the ticket girl clean the theater, and then we watch the empty theater for more than two minutes. No, the film isn't stuck in the projector. This is the Tsai style, and you'll either love it or hate it.

Why love it? Because Tsai knows how to visualize a feeling of abject loneliness and loss. All his films are to some extent about the dehumanizing effects of urban life, how two people, such as the ticket girl and the projectionist, can work together for years and yet never speak, how even her love can only be expressed through a steamed bun of all things. Cinephiles may also want to ponder the message that despite the fact that going to the movies is a communal act, it's essentially a solitary experience, an interaction between you and the screen no matter how many people are or aren't sitting around you.

That is, if you ever go to the movies. As the two old men stroll out of the theater, we learn they are actually Tien Miao and Shih Chun, two of the stars of Dragon Inn. They've come to watch themselves and remember the past. "No one goes to the movies anymore," one comments ruefully. He walks home holding the hand of his young grandson. Perhaps they'll pop in a DVD when they get there.

The DVD adds Tsai's short film The Skywalk is Gone, an epilogue to his film What Time is it There?

Aka Bu San; Good Bye, Dragon Inn.

Hello, creepy person behind the door!



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ticket Woman, Yang Kuei-mei as Peanut Eating Woman

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene...

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

A Bigger Splash Movie Review

Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky...

Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool Movie Review

Both the filmmakers and the characters on-screen are so pleased with themselves that this might...

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

Advertisement
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.