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戲夢人生 (1993)
The Puppet Master

Reviewed by: nomoretitanic
Date: 06/17/2001
Summary: A Terrific Bioepic

This is a terrific movie. A movie about the life, the early years at least, of Taiwanese National Treasure Li Tien-Lu. As suggested by the title, Li Tien-Lu is the foremost guru in the dying art of Chinese handpuppets. His stories are told in the usual uninvolving Hou Hsiao Hsien tone where it doesn't abuse sentimentality or whatnot. Grains of salt is all you'll see on screen. The actors are great. It has that familiar "are the Japs really that evil" theme that runs amok in most of HHH's movies, but this one is a lot less political, or seems so anyways.

Just to be ignorant and Western, I've decided to compare the tone of this movie to Blues music. It has a lot of pain behind it, but it's told with much sweetness and hindsight that sometimes you find humor behind the characters' pain. I did. Another prominent theme in the movie is fate, without revealing too much it's interesting to watch, to say the least.

Li Tien-Lu would make a terrific grandfather, telling all those crazy stories, wish I could hang out with that guy when he's drunk. Too bad he's dead. Too bad I'm drunk.

How can great artists like him die but crappy directors like Stanley Kwan is still young and alive.