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Rebels of the Neon God (Qing shao nian nuo zha)


Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 1992, 106 mins. Archival 35mm print. With Chen Chao-jung, Jen Chang-bin, Lee Kang-sheng. “A tender/tough survey of beautiful, dissolute Taipei youth on their nightly prowls of fluorescent-lit food courts and video arcades.” (Dennis Lim, The Village Voice.) Tsai’s startling debut feature concerns a listless student, Hsiao-kang (Lee), who drops out of cram school without telling his parents, played here by Lu Hsiao-ling and Miao Tien. With his free days and stolen tuition, Hsiao follows around the pack of hoodlums who broke his cab-driver father’s rearview mirror—Ah-tze, Ah-ping, and Ah-tze’s girlfriend, Ah-kuei—with his fixation on Ah-tze lingering in an unresolved space between kid-brother idolization and erotic longing. Rebels of a Neon God features expressive elements which would disappear from Tsai’s later work, including a propulsive synth theme and handheld camerawork. 

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