MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 4,501 this week

The Puppetmaster (1993)
"Xi meng ren sheng" (original title)

7.4
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,058 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 9 critic

In the first half of this century, young Li Tienlu joines a travelling puppet theatre and subsequently makes a career as one of Taiwan's leading puppeteers. During World War II the Japanese... See full summary »

Director:

(as Hsiao-Hsien Hou)

Writers:

, (story), 1 more credit »
0Check in
0Share...

IMDb Picks: August

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in August.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 30 titles
created 05 Jul 2011
 
a list of 41 titles
created 18 Sep 2011
 
a list of 23 titles
created 05 May 2013
 
a list of 23 titles
created 9 months ago
 
a list of 46 titles
created 9 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "The Puppetmaster" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Puppetmaster (1993)

The Puppetmaster (1993) on IMDb 7.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Puppetmaster.
7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In Shanghai in the 1880s there are four elegant brothels (flower houses): each has an auntie (called madam), a courtesan in her prime, older servants, and maturing girls in training. The ... See full summary »

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Michiko Hada, Michelle Reis
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A glimpse at the lives of two petty criminals in Taipei.

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Shih-huang Chen, Hsiang Hsi, Kuei-Ying Hsu
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as ... See full summary »

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Annie Shizuka Inoh, Giong Lim, Jack Kao
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A beautiful, historical film based upon the complex lives of four brothers.

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Shufen Xin, Sung Young Chen
Vive L'Amour (1994)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The film focuses on three city folks who unknowingly share the same apartment: Mei, a real estate agent who uses it for her sexual affairs; Ah-jung, her current lover; and Hsiao-ang, who's ... See full summary »

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Chao-jung Chen, Kang-sheng Lee, Kuei-Mei Yang
The Assassin (2015)
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The film is set during the mighty Tang Dynasty-period in Chinese history. Nie Yinniang returns to family after several years in exile. The mission of her order is to eliminate the tyrany of... See full summary »

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Qi Shu, Chen Chang, Satoshi Tsumabuki
10+10 (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Directors: Sylvia Chang, Tso-chi Chang, and 18 more credits »
Stars: Chia-Jui Kou, Ming-shiou Tsai, Chi-Wen Hsieh
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The semi-autobiographical film on director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's childhood and adolescence, when he was growing up in Taiwan, living through the deaths of his father, mother and grandmother.

Directors: Hsiao-hsien Hou, Jia-hua Lao, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Chia-bao Chang, Neng Chang, Chih-chen Chen
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Ah-Ching and his friends have just finished school in their island fishing village, and now spend most of their time drinking and fighting. Three of them decide to go to the port city of ... See full summary »

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Chun-fang Chang, Shih Chang, Doze Niu
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a young brother and sister spend a pivotal summer away from home, they are changed. Ting-Ting and Tung-Tung (Wang Qiguang) are children of the city, but when their mother is struck ill... See full summary »

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Chi-Kuang Wang, Shu-Chen Li, Hsiu-Ling Lin
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Based from true story, primarily a conflict between two youth gangs, 14-year-old young boy's girlfriend conflict with the head of the gang for unclear reason, until finally there was a painfully incident.

Director: Edward Yang
Stars: Chen Chang, Lisa Yang, Kuo-Chu Chang
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A-yuan and A-yun are both from the small mining town of Jio-fen. In the city, A-yuan is an apprentice by day and goes to night school, and A-yun works as a helper at a tailors. Everyone ... See full summary »

Director: Hsiao-hsien Hou
Stars: Shu-Fang Chen, Lawrence Ko, Tian-Lu Li
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tian-Lu Li ...
Himself
Giong Lim ...
Li Tianlu (young) (as Chung Lin)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ming Hwa Bai ...
Ong Hsiu (grandmother)
Kuei-Chung Cheng ...
Li Tien Lu adolescent
Chien-ru Huang
Tung-Hsiu Kao
Hei Li
Wenchang Li
Hung Liou ...
Li Hei (grandfather)
Wen-Pin Liu
I. Toshiro
Chen-Nan Tsai ...
Komeng Dang (father)
Yi-Hua Tsai
Juwei Tzuo
Li-Yin Yang ...
Lai Hwat (stepmother)
Edit

Storyline

In the first half of this century, young Li Tienlu joines a travelling puppet theatre and subsequently makes a career as one of Taiwan's leading puppeteers. During World War II the Japanese rulers of Taiwan use the traditional Chinese puppet theatre for their war propaganda. Only after the war street theatres start playing again. Written by Otto Oberhauser <Oberhauser@cc.univie.ac.at>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

8 December 1993 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Puppetmaster  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente)

Sound Mix:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

Followed by Good Men, Good Women (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Quietly, rapturously beautiful, but terribly slow.
4 October 1999 | by (Dublin, Ireland) – See all my reviews

As a film detailing a period of history through the experiences of a family, THE PUPPETMASTER is very similar to HEIMAT. By using an acting troupe as the narrative and thematic focus of this history, it resembles THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS and FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE. Stylistically though, it couldn't be further apart. Unlike the character drama of the first, the elegant, complicated camerawork of the second or the intense emotionalism of the last, THE PUPPETMASTER is a rigidly formal work, breathtaking to look at, baffling to understand, eventually oppressive to watch.

The main narrative concerns the life story of the title character, up until the end of World War II - his story parallels the occupation of his country, Taiwan, by Japan. Interspersed between highly stylised and composed dramatisations of his life are interviews with the man himself as an old man.

Although Hao's other films share a similar aesthetic (including the marvellous A CITY OF SADNESS), it is the puppetmaster's profession that shape the look of the film. He puts on elaborate puppet shows; and in the same way his little theatre looks like a cinema screen, Hao's film is less a fluid narrative than a series of tableaux vivants. I think there are only two camera movements in the entire film. Each scene is elaborately composed

  • decor overwhelms the characters, with masses of pillars, frames and


characters dwarfing any individuality. There are hardly any close-ups, and such is the visual clutter, and the sombre lighting it is often shot through, that it's often hard to make out which character is which. The direction is highly distanced and artificial, letting these characters, like rats in a trap, blindly blunder, unable to find an exit.

Any perceived objectivity in this style is deliberately illusory, and it is clear that the protagonist is not the only puppetmaster. Hao's strings are rarely unfelt, and behind the domestic traumas and bildungsroman narrative is a bitter denunciation of the effects of colonialism, and rigid hierarchical societies. Much of the entrapment of environment is linked to the traditional repressions of Taiwanese family life, with its absurd rituals of family nomenclature, masculine honour, and arranged marriages, which allow free rein to domestic brutality and the corruption of decency.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the Taiwanese become such willing quislings, deference and anonymity being a familiar part of everyday life. The puupetmaster is deeply implicated in this, being a prominent, and officially valued member of cultural propagandist groups. Much of the local and symbolic detail was shamefully alien to me, so I obviously lost much, and maybe Li's plays - generous, enthralling excerpts of which appear at crucial points of the film - have a hidden subversion lost to the ignorant viewer.

What isn't lost is a remarkable visual sensibility which often speaks for characters who can't. The historical saga is compelling, and the puppetmaster's life is often moving. The recourse to storytelling and an almost scientific faith in superstition and magic gives the film a feel of magic realism. It's just that by the second half of the film, you're throwing things at your TV, just to get the blasted screen to move.


11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss The Puppetmaster (1993) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?