Sunday, 6 July 2008
Rebels of the Neon God (Ch'ing Shaonien Na Cha) 
Tsai Ming-Liang, one of the most prominent directors to have come out of the cinematically productive land of Taiwan, made his film debut with this oddball, whimsical, harrowing and deeply brooding parable on human loneliness and urban alienation. The paths of the severely disaffected son of a cab driver, and a brash chain-smoking thief who steals changes from telephone boxes and computer parts from video game stores he frequents along with his equally delinquent brother, cross when the latter deliberately vandalizes the cab while the former is riding in it along with his father. While the two brothers continue with their petty stealing and the elder of the two spends the remaining time making love to his casual girlfriend, the cabbie’s son starts following them in his quest for revenge. An extremely low-budget minimalist film (with camera movements, dialogues and music kept at bare minimum), the Taiwanese art-house movie is difficult to start with. Yet thanks to the visually poetic and psychologically jarring depiction of estrangement, juvenile rebelliousness (yes, James Dean does make a very special blink-and-you-miss appearance in the form of a poster from Rebel Without A Cause!), seedy neon-washed underbelly of Taipei’s urban jungle with all its squalor and decadence, and a curious mix of understated pathos and bleak irony, Rebels of the Neon God has become a cult Asian classic that deserves more dissertation and wider recognition.
Director: Tsai Ming-Liang
Genre: Urban Drama/Existential Drama/Experimental Movie