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

 |  Drama  |  16 April 1999 (USA)
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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
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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 Film Geek (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

A rethink of Traditional Chinese culture.
21 November 2003 | by See all my reviews

In the rapid economic development of 1990's in China, there is a resurgence of traditional Chinese culture, partially due to the rise of nationalism accompanied by the increase in wealth, and more importantly, due to the sense of spiritual belonging after the collapse of the old socialist ideology in the post Cultural-Revolutionary era.

However, the resurgence of Chinese traditional culture, namely, the Confucianism, was not without disasters, because Chinese are adopted the entire tradition without eliminating the bad part, and the discrimination against girls demonstrated in this film is an excellent example.

Moreover, not only the part that should be discarded were inherited, the good part that was supposed to be inherited, such as the traditional opera, and its technique, such as changing face, was ignored in the resurgence, and facing extinction.

The director used this film to criticize the problem of re-embracing tradition by contemporary China and this is the deeper meaning behind the movie.

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