IMDb > The River (1997)
He liu
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The River (1997) More at IMDbPro »He liu (original title)

The River -- US Home Video Trailer from Wellspring


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7.4/10   1,681 votes »
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Release Date:
7 August 1997 (Taiwan) See more »
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... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
5 wins & 5 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Postmodernity is a pain in the neck See more (21 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
Tien Miao ... Father
Kang-sheng Lee ... Kang-Sheng, Xiao-Kang
Yi-Ching Lu ... Mother (as Hsiao-Ling Lu)

Ann Hui ... Director (as Anne Hui)
Shiang-chyi Chen ... Girl
Chao-jung Chen ... Anonymous Man
Shiao-Lin Lu ... Mother's lover (as Long Chang)
Kuei-Mei Yang ... Girl in Hotel

Directed by
Ming-liang Tsai 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ming-liang Tsai 
Yi-chun Tsai 
Pi-ying Yang 

Produced by
Shun-Ching Chiu .... producer
Hu-pin Chung .... executive producer
Li-Kong Hsu .... producer
Shih-Yuan Lin .... line producer
Shih-Fang Wang .... associate producer
Cinematography by
Pen-jung Liao 
Film Editing by
Sheng-Chang Chen 
Chen-Ching Lei 
Production Design by
Tony Lan 
Art Direction by
Pao-Lin Lee 
Set Decoration by
Nien-Chiu Cheng 
Mu-Shan Kuo 
Costume Design by
Wang Yu 
Makeup Department
Pei-Wen Yen .... additional hair stylist
Pei-Wen Yen .... additional makeup artist
Chou Zenia .... hair stylist
Chou Zenia .... makeup artist
Production Management
Chih-ming Huang .... production manager
Hui-Chin Lin .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Pei-Chun Chen .... assistant director
Ming-tai Wang .... assistant director
Sound Department
Din-I Hu .... foley artist
Yuan-Feng Tsao .... foley artist
Ching-Ang Yang .... production sound mixer
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Marie Chao .... wardrobe mistress
Other crew
San-Ling Chang .... overseas coordinator
Helen Dei .... script supervisor
Yi-Mei Luo .... overseas coordinator


Additional Details

Also Known As:
"He liu" - Taiwan (original title)
See more »
115 min | Germany:116 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

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 »
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 »
Movie Connections:


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24 out of 26 people found the following review useful.
Postmodernity is a pain in the neck, 26 September 1999

Xiao-kang (Kang-sheng Lee) is a teenage rube who gets hornswoggled into doing the dead man's float in a polluted river so a no-budget filmmaker can get her shot. The next day, a pain in his neck appears, and his father (Tien Miao) has every solution for it except the obvious one--a doctor. The curious web that connects Xiao-kang, whose pain grows from the noisome to the suicide-inducing, his dad, a divorcee with a penchant for male hustlers, and the kid's proper, upscale girlfriend (Shiang-chyi Chen), couldn't be guessed at by any movie you've ever seen or any novel you've ever read. And if the words "David Cronenberg" popped into your mind when Xiao-kang's neck started metastasizing, you're wrong again.

The writer-director Tsai Ming-liang has two primary interests in THE RIVER: water and alienated architecture. If you wanted to be really crude about it, you could say that on today's world-cinema landscape Wong Kar-Wai is a new Godard, and Tsai Ming-liang is a new Antonioni. He knows how to make a colloquy of old Taiwanese men at McDonald's look like Heywood Floyd's walk through the space station in 2001; and for a better picture of bottom-drawer loneliness you'd have to go back to Travis Bickle. But he has two secondary interests, too--bodies (Dad's pot-bellied but still lithe one, the son's with his ever-tilting neck) and organic human processes (peeing, washing, masturbating, frying stuff in a wok). The emphasis on forlorn public spaces justified the movie's presence in an absurdly titled recent L.A. retrospective called "Ultra Modern Loneliness," but if you think Ming-liang is an alienated King of Pain, you're still wide of the mark. He uses these quintessentially bodily moments to make hyperpoetic still lifes that evoke the paintings of Eric Fischl. Every scene is like a metaphor that doesn't point at anything but itself.

If you had to characterize Tsai Ming-liang's voice here, it would be like the sound of passing traffic heard from an apartment window. He so withdraws from the indicating and commentary that passes as ninety-nine percent of world moviemaking that the audience gets freaky nervous. But as much as any director that's emerged since David Lynch, he's a true-blue original--he don't owe nothing to nobody. Perhaps the most gorgeous aspect of THE RIVER is Ming-liang's focus on the cinematic potential of human touch, which fascinates him even more profoundly than it did Cassavetes or Pialat. The way a human touch can shade from pain-giving to pleasure, or vice versa, leads to the shattering climax of THE RIVER's seeming non-story--a narrative arc as unfettered, as personal and intuitive, as any in contemporary movies.

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