In Taiwan, Xiao-kang, a young man in his early 20s, lives with his parents in near silence. He is plagued by severe neck pain. His father is bedeviled by water first leaking into his ... See full summary »

Director:

On Disc

at Amazon

Comic-Con 2017: All Aboard the IMDboat

 | 

July 20 to 23, 2017

Get entertainment news, trailer drops, and photos with IMDb's coverage of 2017 San Diego Comic-Con featuring host and IMDboat captain Kevin Smith, including Saturday's live event.

Browse Our Guide to Comic-Con

6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Dong (1998)
Drama | Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A strange disease starts to affect people in Taiwan just before the year 2000. The authorities order everyone to evacuate, but some tenants of an apartment building stay put, including a ... See full summary »

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kuei-Mei Yang, Kang-sheng Lee, Tien Miao
Vive L'Amour (1994)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 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
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Within the urban gloom of Taipei, four youths face alienation, loneliness, and moments of existential crisis amidst a series of minor crimes.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Chao-jung Chen, Chang-Bin Jen, Kang-sheng Lee
Hei yan quan (2006)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A day laborer is badly beaten, and a young man nurses him back to health.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Norman Atun
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

On a dark, wet night a historic and regal Chinese cinema sees its final film. Together with a small handful of souls they bid "Goodbye, Dragon Inn."

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Kiyonobu Mitamura
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

When a young street vendor with a grim home life meets a woman on her way to Paris, they forge an instant connection. He changes all the clocks in Taipei to French time; as he watches ... See full summary »

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Hsiao-Kang, now working as a pornographic actor, meets Shiang-chyi once again. Meanwhile, the city of Taipei faces a water shortage that makes the sales of watermelons skyrocket.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu
Stray Dogs (2013)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An alcoholic man and his two young children barely survive in Taipei. They cross path with a lonely grocery clerk who might help them make a better life.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Kuei-Mei Yang, Yi-Ching Lu
Visage (2009)
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Hsiao-Kang, a Taiwanese film director, travels to the Louvre in Paris, France, to shoot a film that explores the Salomé myth.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Yi-Ching Lu, Fanny Ardant
Short | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A girl (Shiang-chyi Chen) looks for a street vendor in Taipei. But she can't find him since the Skywalk is Gone.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Shiang-chyi Chen, Kang-sheng Lee, Yi-Ching Lu
Xi you (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Tsai Ming-liang returns with this latest entry in his Walker series, in which his monk acquires an unexpected acolyte in the form of Denis Lavant as he makes his way through the streets of a sun-dappled Marseille.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Denis Lavant
Wu wu mian (2015)
Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Journey To The West with Lee-Kang-Sheng continuing his tortuous journey here. Tsai Ming-Liang at his best. Watch it on YouTube.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Masanobu Andô, Kang-sheng Lee
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tien Miao ...
Father
...
...
Mother (as Hsiao-Ling Lu)
...
Director (as Anne Hui)
...
Girl
...
Anonymous Man
Shiao-Lin Lu ...
Mother's lover (as Long Chang)
...
Girl in Hotel
Edit

Storyline

In Taiwan, Xiao-kang, a young man in his early 20s, lives with his parents in near silence. He is plagued by severe neck pain. His father is bedeviled by water first leaking into his bedroom and then flooding the apartment; rain is incessant. Xiao-kang's mother is overcome by sexual longing for her son, sometimes making seemingly incestuous overtures. They try virtually every intervention for Xiao-kang's neck: Western medicine, a chiropractor, acupuncture, an herbal doctor, and a faith healer, Master Liu. Are the family's silent dynamics and Xiao-kang's neck pain connected? And what about the body floating in the Tamsui River: is everything dead? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 August 1997 (Taiwan)  »

Also Known As:

The River  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The director of the movie in which Xiao-Keng floats in the river is played by real-life Hong Kong director Ann Hui. See more »

Quotes

Girl: Hsiao-kang, I want to go pee. Could you turn off the lights?
[Hsiao-kang turns off the lights]
Girl: The curtains, too.
See more »

Connections

Follows Vive L'Amour (1994) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Bold, subdued revealing tale of a Taiwan family with dark elements, cinematically and content-wise. NFE (not for everyone)
3 November 2001 | by (sf, usa) – See all my reviews

After the film, my immediate reaction was it felt like the other extreme of "American Beauty," call it "Taipei Beauty". It's about a dysfunctional family, but in a much quieter, subdued way. It's dark, rather Kafka-est, and at times reminds me of Jim Jarmusch's black and white films. This film is in color, yet the mood and tone somehow felt sparing and heartlessly detached. There's not a whole lot of dialog. Very often we have long shots/scenes - and I mean both in the sense of camera held duration and reach of distance. Director Tsai Ming-liang definitely is not shy at giving us the real-time experience: the stillness of waiting, the (long) pause of a character just standing there, sitting there motionless, alone in the dark in dim lighting, or just going through the routine of munching food. Mind you, it may seem like nothing's going on, but the underlying emotion or turmoil within the character is silently felt. He even repeats (similar) scenes - it has a French film flavor: the actions/motions the characters go through seem to come so naturally, like ordinary daily life routines.

Ambient sound effects play an effective role in "The River," and they're constantly there, aptly applied complementing the scenes instead of musical tracks. Besides the two critical boldly captured intimate scenes of the son, the other intimate scene of the father, another of the mother, are all presented in a transitional flow, unobtrusively natural way. Sensitive portrayals all round - the demonstration of utter unawareness of each other, as a family unit or floating bodies in the circle they're in, is complete. Lee Kang-sheng (apparently a regular in director Tsai's films), playing Xiao-kang the son with the murderous neck pain, was so unbelievably real - so comfortably natural in every scene and situation.

I thought of Jacques Rivette's 1990 "La Belle Noiseuse" which I recently viewed, where Emmanuelle Béart told Michel Piccoli a riddle: "What is something that travels on a hollow track, never sleeps, never goes back?" "It's a river, a stream." It squarely describes this Taipei family of three: the father, the mother, and the son, each are quite lonely by him/herself, leading a hollow existence. You might say 'fate' has a hand in the flow of events: if the son did not casually happen to meet his old girlfriend at the escalators of the mall, leading to his 'extra' actor role of a floating corpse in a movie shoot, when his body being soaked in the river wetness, followed by his riding the scooter with his neck exposed to the breezy wind, hence the chill giving rise to the agonizing neck pain unable to get rid of… As a river has converging tributaries joining its course, we see the father's simultaneous harassing frustration with the non-stop ceiling water leaks in his bedroom - quite a pouring river whenever it rains, plus his unspoken secret; we also get to see the mother's lonely occupation and preoccupation. Like any river, there are unexpected rapids, and the family of three copes. Yes, in Tsai Ming-liang's "The River," the events just happen, and there is no going back - life goes on a-flowing.

There are two other films titled "The River." Jean Renoir's 1951 "The River," a beautiful sensitive film shot in Indian, about three teenage girls growing up in Bengal; Mark Rydell's 1984 "The River" with Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek in a Hollywood 'disaster' save-the-family-farm movie. Tsai's 1997 "The River" may be hard medicine, yet beyond the bitterness, a flavorful taste shall emerge. It's more than thought provoking. To some, I agree, this tastes like a masterpiece.


7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?