67% The Maze Runner Sep 19
65% A Walk Among the Tombstones Sep 19
52% This Is Where I Leave You Sep 19
84% Tracks Sep 19
92% The Guest Sep 17

Top Box Office

11% No Good Deed $24.3M
72% Dolphin Tale 2 $15.9M
92% Guardians of the Galaxy $8.1M
19% Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $4.9M
20% Let's Be Cops $4.4M
89% The Drop $4.1M
37% If I Stay $3.9M
36% The November Man $2.8M
33% The Giver $2.6M
67% The Hundred-Foot Journey $2.4M

Coming Soon

68% The Equalizer Sep 26
70% The Boxtrolls Sep 26
86% The Two Faces of January Sep 26
—— Two Night Stand Sep 26
91% Jimi: All Is by My Side Sep 26

New Episodes Tonight

100% Garfunkel and Oates: Season 1
—— Haven: Season 5
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
56% Married: Season 1
39% Rush: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
79% You're the Worst: Season 1

Discuss Last Night's Shows

86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
83% Extant: Season 1
—— Franklin & Bash: Season 4
—— The League: Season 6
56% Legends: Season 1
24% The Mysteries of Laura: Season 1
59% Red Band Society: Season 1

Certified Fresh TV

87% Boardwalk Empire: Season 5
86% The Bridge (FX): Season 2
91% Doctor Who: Season 8
83% Extant: Season 1
89% The Honorable Woman: Season 1
87% The Knick: Season 1
89% Manhattan: Season 1
97% Masters of Sex: Season 2
90% Outlander: Season 1
82% Satisfaction: Season 1
87% The Strain: Season 1
79% You're the Worst: Season 1

Bian Lian (The King of Masks)

Bian Lian (The King of Masks) (1999)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 3,089

My Rating

Movie Info

This tender Chinese tale of an aged street performer who begins teaching a young child is filled with warm humanity but not imbued with undue sentiment. It is set about seventy years in the past and centers on elderly Wang Bian Lian, who travels the street performing with his pet monkey. Just looking at him it would be hard to tell that he is a master of the rapid changing face masks technique that characterizes Sichuan opera. He came to the streets thirty years before, after his wife abandoned


Art House & International, Drama

Wei Minglun

Mar 7, 2000

Samuel Goldwyn

Watch It Now



Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (2) | DVD (5)

This charming, '30s-set fable offers richer rewards than a jolt of adrenaline.

February 18, 2005 Full Review Source:

Reveals the desperate lengths a resilient little girl will go to find a permanent home.

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

The story centers around an elderly street performer who is a fast changer of silk masks.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

starts out strong and enduring, but squanders its tender sincerity on dramatics.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card
Hollywood Report Card

Both a charming film and a contemporary allegory, old-fashioned storytelling and scathing commentary.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for Bian Lian (The King of Masks)

An insightful study in Asian culture and the sometimes tragic consequences of tradition. Slightly sappy but a genuine pleasure to watch. This one will tug at your heartstrings (hankies mandatory).
May 7, 2010
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Not a bad story, but not what I'd hoped to see. If they'd spent more time exploring the artistry of the mask quick-change and the King teaching that to "Doggie," I think the film would be stronger for it. The art form is fascinating and pure magic.
April 25, 2007

Super Reviewer

A well directed moving story.
June 10, 2008

Super Reviewer

Tear-jerking. One of the most recommanded film by me. Many foreign elements unknown to the Occidental world such as tradition to pass down family's secret skill unto sons, the working force of the society, and one's own sons only. Nonetheless, the emotion and the art is much appreciated and louder than color. A must watch!
January 14, 2008
Jojo Shek

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Bian Lian (The King of Masks) on our Movie forum!

What's Hot On RT

Red Carpet Roundup
Red Carpet Roundup

100 pics from Toronto Film Fest

Hunger Games
Hunger Games

New Mockingjay - Part 1 trailer

New on DVD & Blu-Ray
New on DVD & Blu-Ray

Godzilla, The Fault in Our Stars

24 Frames
24 Frames

Longest-running American sitcoms gallery

Foreign Titles

  • The King of Masks (Bian Lian) (DE)
  • The King of Masks (Bian Lian) (UK)
Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile