King of Masks, The (1996)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Wu Tian-Ming]
Cast: Zhu Xu, Zhou Ren-Ying

An overly-emotional yet still quite beautiful film about an elder mask-maker who adopts what he thinks is a son. The mask-maker hopes to teach his craft to his son, and pass on the great family art. But the son he buys turns out to be a girl. The master craftsman (also a quaint sort of performer with his masks) then has to deal with a great conflict within himself about the young girl, who is somehow called Doggie. Should he shame his ancestors and teach her the art, which has been preserved by the men of the family for generations, or should he abandon her and paddle his boat down the river, cursing his bad luck?

The movie’s main flaw is that it ends up being so tearful that some of the teary moments seem just too over-the-top. However, it is a sweet and entertaining film (if a little bit too slow).

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