56 user 33 critic

Bian Lian (1996)

2:00 | Trailer

Watch Now

With Prime Video

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 »


Tian-Ming Wu


Wengui Chen (story), Minglun Wei (screenplay)
22 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

More Like This 

Lao jing (1987)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A married village worker teams up with an old girlfriend to try to dig a well for his water-starved village. The well collapses and they are trapped. Their enforced confinement leads to ... See full summary »

Director: Tian-Ming Wu
Stars: Yujing Liang, Yuqing Liao, Liping Lü
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A violin prodigy and his father travel to Beijing, where the father seeks the means to his son's success while the son struggles to accept the path laid before him.

Director: Kaige Chen
Stars: Yun Tang, Peiqi Liu, Hong Chen
Shower (1999)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Shenzhen businessman, Da Ming, goes home to Beijing when he thinks his father has died. He finds his father hard at work at the family's bathhouse (the false message was a ruse of Da's ... See full summary »

Director: Yang Zhang
Stars: Jiayi Du, Bing He, Wu Jiang
Ju Dou (1990)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A woman married to the brutal and infertile owner of a dye mill in rural China conceives a boy with her husband's nephew but is forced to raise her son as her husband's heir without ... See full summary »

Directors: Yimou Zhang, Fengliang Yang
Stars: Li Gong, Wei Li, Baotian Li
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Prompted by the death of his father and the grief of his mother, a man recalls the story of how they met in flashback.

Director: Yimou Zhang
Stars: Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hao Zheng


Credited cast:
Li Chen Li Chen ... Ms Wen
Zhaoji Jia Zhaoji Jia ... Slave trader
Zhigang Zhang Zhigang Zhang ... Sulan, Luo
Zhigang Zhao Zhigang Zhao ... Liang Sao Lang
Renying Zhou 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 <bluzman@voyager.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




See all certifications »



China | Hong Kong



Release Date:

16 August 1996 (Hong Kong) See more »

Also Known As:

King of Masks See more »

Filming Locations:

Shanghai, China


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$394,272, 11 June 1999

Gross USA:

$1,104,619, 27 February 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shaw Brothers See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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 »

Alternate Versions

Original Chinese version runs 101 minutes; international Version runs 91 minutes. See more »


Referenced in Be Kind Rewind (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A Beautiful Film
22 March 2005 | by Wulfstan10See all my reviews

This is a beautiful, rich, and very well-executed film with a rich and meaningful story. Basically, it tells how an old master story teller needs to find a (male) heir to carry on his craft, but ends up not getting what he expected in his very male-dominated world. The characters must then deal with their situation and the old master must grapple with the conflict between his desire for a companion and heir and his and society's traditional notions.

The story is fun, emotional, and complex. The exploration of the characters, their lives, and emotions, is rich and compelling the character development is strong while the characters are complex and not one dimensional at all. The film expertly conveys the old man's emotions and his desire to find an heir, and compellingly shows how he and the kid handle the situation. There is also humour, sometimes quite subtle, at appropriate points. The film also examines the good and bad of traditional Chinese culture, creating further interest and depth to the film.

The directing, acting, and scenery are all outstanding. Added to the other strengths, this creates rich and convincing visual images and compelling, real characters. As a result, the film evokes strong empathy for, and feelings about, the characters.

Some have claimed that the ending weakens the film, but I do not necessarily agree. Perhaps it could have been stronger with a different ending, but any improvement in the overall film would have been rather small.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 56 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Check Out What's Playing on IMDb Freedive

See what movies and TV series you can watch for free today, and visit IMDb Freedive for even more. Select any poster below to play the movie!

Find more things to watch

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed