Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Goodbye, Dragon Inn 2003

Bu San

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang

Taiwan In Mandarin with English subtitles
82 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay


Liao Ben-bong


Cheng Sheng-chang


Lee Kang-sheng
Cheng Shiang-chyi
Mitamura Kiyonobu


Venice, Toronto, New York 2003


Critics' Prize, Venice 2003


In a monumentally empty cinema a tiny audience shelters from the relentless downpour outside and watches the King Hu martial arts classic Dragon Inn. Tsai Ming-liang’s dank, dark and relentlessly wet vision of the death of movie-going could soak into the bad dreams of cinephiles. The lame cashier hobbles down long subterranean corridors and tackles the steps up to the projection box to leave her sad gift for the elusive projectionist. Anonymous sex in the cinema or the men’s room proves just as elusive for a scrawny young Japanese visitor. Two old men (one with a child) watch and weep as the ghosts of their heyday cavort on the screen (both actually appeared in the King Hu film). We pass many long moments contemplating the emptiness of the room – until the empty cinema seems to be contemplating us. Entropy in the cinema is contrasted with the clatter on the soundtrack and the play of colour on the screen within the screen. Stunningly, willfully action-free, and indelible afterwards, this cavernous echo-chamber is the year’s boldest, most impressive experimental film. — BG