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Rebels of the Neon God announces writer-director Ming-liang Tsai as a fully formed talent -- and remains one of the more accomplished debuts of the decade.
All Critics (31)
| Top Critics (13)
| Fresh (31)
| Rotten (0)
| DVD (1)
We've seen these kids before, but we've never seen them quite like this.
Like Godard's "Breathless" and Wong's "As Tears Go By," "Rebels" cunningly synthesizes both B-movie and art film.
A breathtaking, disturbing look at urban angst and the emptiness of youth culture ...
It seems so fresh and immediate you'd never know that it's 23 years old.
A clinical, cool-suspicious dissection of disaffected youth maneuvering Taipei's grimier, noisier corners.
[Rebels of the Neon God] is the director's most accessible film. That will seem like a funny observation once you've seen it, because Tsai's most accessible film is more unusual and uncompromising than any you're likely to see this year.
Hsiao, like everyone else of his generation, can't move forward in this twilight, which is soon to enter a night that will be terminated by the dawn of new political arrangements in the region and a bright new class of consumer technologies.
Although the characters speak sparingly, especially the taciturn Hsiao-Kang, we come away understanding their world a little better. The conflicts that they encounter along the way are by no means resolved, but the ending is satisfying just the same.
Not to suggest that cigarette smoking or petty crime is cool, but is it possible to have a cooler entrance than that of Ah Tze and Ah Bing, first seen robbing a blue-lit phone booth on a rainy night in Taipei, cigarettes dangling from their lips?
More than just watching an early film by an untouchable master; it allows you to see his style with newly fresh eyes.
For fans of arthouse cinema, it's easily the most interesting thing to come along in some time.
One of the great films about modern unrest and the pangs of youth. I can't wait to watch it again.
Tsai's first feature film was already a remarkable naturalistic look into the emptiness, lassitude and lack of human connection of Taipei youth, despite how it clings so much to an element of revenge that feels a tad poorly motivated - or perhaps that is precisely the point after all.
In "Rebels of the Neon God," Hsiao Kang(Lee Kang-sheng) is going through a bit of a rough patch as he wants to drop out of cram school. First, he hurts his hand on a window and then his scooter is towed away. Not only does his father(Tien Miao), a cab driver, give him a ride but also talks about taking the rest of the afternoon off and going to see a movie together. But that's when Ah Tze(Chen Chao-jung) comes into the picture. He is giving a ride home to Ah Kuei(Yu-Wen Wang) who had spent the previous night with his brother in their flooded apartment while Ah Tze was out committing petty acts of larceny with his friend Ah Bing(Chang-bin Jen).
Even with his bittersweet first feature, "Rebels of the Neon God," Tsai Ming-liang shows remarkable assurance in crafting a story the is deceptively elegant and subtly told. All of which is in the service of depicting youth who are trying to discover themselves, while at the same time missing opportunities that pass them by. To be honest, they are not cognizant of the effects this has on their lives or on others because they are living purely in the moment. Hsiao Kang may know that he does not want to be another faceless cog in the machine. He just does not know what he wants. It is his parents who have an eye on his future because they have already lived it. So while they save every penny for his education, they cannot help to dream.
i've been thinking about getting into tsai and i've decided to tackle them in order as his feature films revolve around one character who is introduced here. the film seems loosely inspired by nicholas ray's seminal 'rebel without a cause,' even featuring a james dean poster at the video arcade where the young protagonists spend much of their time (temple of the neon god). our 'hero' hsiao kang mostly presents as the sal mineo character. you'll see what i mean. funny how disaffected youth the world over recognize each other
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