Boys (Xiao hai)
Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 1991, 50 mins. Digital projection. With Lee Kang-sheng.
While preparing to shoot this short feature for television, Tsai discovered and auditioned a young man working as a guard at a video arcade. This was Lee Kang-sheng, Tsai’s muse-to-be, who has appeared in all of his feature films to date. Lee plays a junior-high student who bullies and blackmails a younger boy, then receives the same treatment at the hands of some older students, in what could be a practice run for the presentation of dog-eat-dog youth in the following year’s Rebels of the Neon God. One of ten television features Tsai wrote between 1989 and 1991, Boys offers a rare glimpse into his apprenticeship period. “I decided to be more accepting of Hsiao-kang’s acting, rather than force him to react quicker,” said Tsai. “If that’s the way he reacts, that’s the way he is.”
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