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Rebels of the Neon God(青少年哪吒)

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Taiwan · 1992
1h 46m
Director Tsai Ming-liang
Starring Chen Chao-jung, Lee Kang-Sheng, Lu Yi-Ching, Miao Tien
Genre Crime, Drama

The debut feature from acclaimed director Tsai Ming-Liang follows the young Hsiao Kang (Lee Kang-Sheng) as he drops out of school to wander the streets of Taipei. His loneliness is eased through a voyeuristic obsession he takes up with a group of teenage friends, as the film wanders between bars, restaurants, and the bright neon lights of the arcade.

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The New York Times by A.O. Scott

Mr. Tsai typically uses narrative as a tool for exploring the moods and meanings that link his characters with one another and with the city that awakens, contains and frustrates their desires. They seem very much stuck in their world, but because that world is the creation of a wildly original artist coming into his own, it also feels alive with possibility.


Slant Magazine by Clayton Dillard

Tsai Ming-liang's debut makes one yearn for an alternative reality where it, not Pulp Fiction, became the beacon of '90s independent filmmaking.


Time Out by David Ehrlich

Tsai’s work sees generational defiance as a symptom of the ennui felt by their young subjects as they drift into adulthood, and Rebels’ unusually sharp focus on that theme makes it an accessible primer for the elements that would inform the more oblique masterpieces to come.


Village Voice by Jonathan Kiefer

Tsai isn't without mischief — one key to this film's hypnotic power is humor so subtle it's practically subliminal — but his preferred takeaway is the pathos, the still-universal frustration, of an unanswered ringtone.


The A.V. Club by Mike D'Angelo

Consequently, it’s primarily of interest to longtime fans, or to those who think they might become fans and want to take this opportunity to start at the beginning. If nothing else, this is a rare case in which a director’s feature debut doubles as his greatest-hits album. To watch it is to simultaneously see where Tsai Ming-liang came from and precisely where he was headed.


Boston Globe by Peter Keough

Despite the self-conscious derivativeness and allusions, Tsai’s debut already demonstrates the contrariness and motifs that have distinguished him as a unique, difficult, and transcendent filmmaker.


The Dissolve by Scott Tobias

Though Rebels Of The Neon God is missing the austerity and discipline that would make Tsai’s master-shot style so effective—and funny—its relatively conventional approach (including a recurring musical theme!) doesn’t obscure the beautiful, enigmatic tone that’s long set him apart.

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