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The King of Masks (1996)
"Bian Lian" (original title)

 |  Drama  |  16 April 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,723 users  
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Wang Bianlian is an aging street performer known as the King of Mask for his mastery of Sichuan Change Art in a true story. His wife left him with and infant son over 30 years ago. The son ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Zhaoji Jia ...
Slave trader
Zhigang Zhang ...
Sulan, Luo
Zhigang Zhao ...
Liang Sao Lang
Renying Zhou ...
Gou Wa ("Doggie")
Xu Zhu ...
Bianlian Wang


Wang Bianlian is an aging street performer known as the King of Mask for his mastery of Sichuan Change Art in a true story. His wife left him with and infant son over 30 years ago. The son died from illness at age 10. This left Wang a melancholy loner aching for a male descendent to learn his rare and dying art. A famous master performer of the Sichuan Opera offers to bring him into his act, thus giving Wang fame and possible fortune, but Wang opts for staying the simple street performer. Then, one night after a performance he is sold a young boy by a slave trader posing as the boy's parent. "Grandpa" finds new joy in life as he plans to teach "Doggie" (an affectionate term often used for young children in China) his art. All is well until Doggie is found out to really be a girl. Written by Steve Uptegraft <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

16 April 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El rey de las máscaras  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$394,272 (USA) (11 June 1999)


$1,104,619 (USA) (25 February 2000)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Wang (The Mask King) is performing for the soldiers who insist on having his secret, his missing front tooth is there in one scene, then gone in the next. See more »


Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Wildest thing I've ever seen!
19 April 2003 | by (Washington DC) – See all my reviews

This spectacular film is one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen. It shows a China I had never seen or imagined, and I believe it shows 1930's China in the most REAL light ever seen in a movie. It is absolutely heart-breaking in so many situations, seeing how hard life was for the characters, and yet the story and the ending are incredibly joyful. You truly see the depths and heigths of human existence in this film. The actors are all perfect, such that you feel like you have really entered a different world.

I simply can not recommend this movie highly enough. It may just change you forever once you have seen it.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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