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The King of Masks (1996) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • 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 <bluzman@voyager.net>
  • Master Liang, a famous impersonator of female parts at the Sichuan Opera, is enchanted by the art of the street performer Wang, known as the King of Masks. He offers him an engagement at the opera, but Wang says he is a solitary by nature. His only sorrow is that he has no male descendant who can carry on the art of the changing masks after his death. To solve the problem Wang buys an 8 year old orphan. His happiness turns into dejection, when he finds out that "the boy" actually is a girl. Despite his displeasure he keeps the girl and trains her as an acrobat. One evening he takes her to a performance of the opera "Attaining Nirvana". There Master Liang plays a princess, who hangs from the ceiling by a rope, which she threatens to cut if the officers don't stop the execution of her father, the emperor. Some days later the girl rescues a 4 year old boy from his confinement by some child-traders. Believing he is an orphan, she brings him to Wang, who she knows is longing for a male inheritor. But the boy is actually kidnapped from a wealthy family, and soon Wang is accused of the robbery and sentenced to death. To persuade Master Liang to help her rescue Wang, the girl climbs the roof of the opera house, ties a rope around her leg and hangs to it from the ceiling. She threatens to cut the rope, and when she actually does this, Master Liang throws himself forward and catches her. He is moved by her action and decides to do whatever he can to help the girl rescue Wang.

    - Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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