A multi-lingual tour guide who owns multiple passports one day drives his wife and daughter to a desolate seashore town and checks in a secluded, spacious, ruins-like hotel. From that moment on, he throws himself into gambling, tossing the dice with local residents all day. Sometimes he wins big, bu...(Read more)
A multi-lingual tour guide who owns multiple passports one day drives his wife and daughter to a desolate seashore town and checks in a secluded, spacious, ruins-like hotel. From that moment on, he throws himself into gambling, tossing the dice with local residents all day. Sometimes he wins big, but sometimes he loses all. Feeling neglected and uncomfortable, his wife and daughter soon leave him and return home. He stays and wanders in this fishing village and gradually immerses himself in the surroundings—a place rife with immoral vagabonds, outlaws, and weirdoes.
The style of Ho Ping’s films is intensely impressive, dark, and grotesque—it could be called “magical realism” or “dark realism.” It combines the local concerns of the 1980s Taiwan New Cinema and the 1990s MTV style of Generation X. In three of his most important works, Eighteen (1993), Wolves Cry under the Moon (1997), and The Rule of the Game (2002), the settings are always spectacular ruins, whether bleak towns or urban backstreets; characters are wanderers, losers, fugitives, and exiles—anti-social nihilists and anarchists. The narrative is fragmentary, with reality, dreams, and fantasies interwoven, filled with subconscious and surreal coloring and distortions. All these provocatively demonstrate the dark side of humanity. In this film, the main and only setting is a small seaside town in southern Taiwan, shrouded in an atmosphere of plague and doom. The seashore is a peculiar place where land and sea drift back and forth, borderlines are vague and where dirty, moist surges occur suddenly. Violence reigns, money and fists define power and the dice never stop rolling around the bowl, wavering between the extremes of contingency and fatalism. The indoors settings are the damp and dark lobby, corridors, and love-hotel rooms. Outdoors, ghost-like residents wander under the scorching sun. All the local people are like those in Sherwood Anderson’s novel Winesburg, Ohio, or in Werner Herzog’s film Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) and Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). There are also immigrants, such as the aged mainlander war veteran and his lusty local wife, and newcomers smuggled from China after the lifting of martial law in Taiwan. It’s the 1990s, a time of explosive political sideshows, and thus this film is filled with political symbols provoked or profaned by Rabelaisian, carnivalesque protests. All these contribute to Ho Ping’s unique style of “magical realism” and “dark/grotesque realism.”
DVD source：Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C.
|Producer：||WANG Pao-Min, HSU An-Chin|
|Actors：||WU Hsin-Kuo, LU Hsiao-Fen, TOU Chung-Hua|
|Screenplay：||HO Ping, KUO Cheng|
|HO Ping, Tom RYAN|
|Editor：||CHEN Po-Wen, CHOU She-Wei|
Taiwan Film Institute
1993 Thessaloniki Film Festival, FIPRESCI Prize, Special Artistic Achievement Award