Review: Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003)

Directed by:
Cast: , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

If you like Taiwanese drama, then read no further, because you’re likely to be annoyed. For the rest of you, here’s my unvarnished opinion of Goodbye, Dragon Inn.

Interminable. Almost unwatchable. Aside from no more than 2 slightly amusing moments, the film had nothing I wanted to see. And they may have been slightly amusing only in contrast to the absolute tedium of the rest of the film: a desperate attempt by one’s forebrain to extract something, anything, out of this experience. Relief, maybe, at seeing something approximating human emotion.

Because for the course of this whole film, there was almost no human interaction: no conversation, no attempt to reach out, nothing. The characters were hardly characters at all. There was little to distinguish one from another, no impression of personalities or moods, no human colour.

Perhaps, you might say, this was deliberate. Perhaps the film-maker wanted to show the flat reality of some lives, without cinematic exaggeration. Perhaps the whole was meant to be a subtle vista of real, unvarnished life.

Well, perhaps. But if I wanted to watch people walking along corridors, up and down stairs, and around toilets, in real-time, then I’d go to the Star Ferry dock in Tsim Sha Tsui and do it live. I might even get some spontaneous drama that way, Tsim Sha Tsui being what it is. I’d certainly see more human interaction, and get more feeling of characters there than in this film. I’d be able to smoke and stroll around, and buy any number of things at the same time, And I’d get a waft of Eau De Harbour to enhance the experience, at no extra cost.

No, this film gave me nothing of value. It reminded me a bit of Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls: self-indulgent and flat, although that did at least have dialogue. And while indubitably well-made, by an indubitably well-respected director, it stirred no other emotion than keening boredom. Perhaps you’ll think me shallow. Perhaps I am. But for me this was a well-made yet wholly unwatchable film. And what’s the good of being an artist, if no-one appreciates your art?

1 well-respected Taiwanese director out of 10.
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