7.2/10
2,404
22 user 28 critic

The River (1997)

He liu (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 7 August 1997 (Taiwan)
Trailer
1:21 | Trailer
A young man develops severe neck pain after swimming in a polluted river; his dysfunctional parents are unable to provide any relief for him or themselves.

Director:

Ming-liang Tsai
6 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Vive L'Amour (1994)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Three lonely young denizens of Taipei unknowingly share an apartment used for sexual trysts.

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
The Hole (1998)
Drama | Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

While never-ending rain and a strange disease spread by cockroaches ravage Taiwan, a plumber makes a hole between two apartments and the inhabitants of each form a unique connection, enacted in musical numbers.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kuei-Mei Yang, Kang-sheng Lee, Tien Miao
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A watch salesman meets a young woman soon leaving for Paris and becomes infatuated, so he begins to change all the clocks in Taipei to Paris time.

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu
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 7/10 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
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 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
Face (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
Stray Dogs (2013)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 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
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 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
Your Face (2018)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Radically rethinking the tired talking-heads template, Tsai Ming-liang's latest digital experiment turns the human face into a subject of dramatic intrigue. Comprised of a series of ... See full summary »

Director: Ming-liang Tsai
Stars: Kang-sheng Lee, Ming-liang Tsai
Short | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 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
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tien Miao ... Father
Kang-sheng Lee ... Hsiao-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 Shiao-Lin Lu ... Mother's lover (as Long Chang)
Kuei-Mei Yang ... 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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Taiwan

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

7 August 1997 (Taiwan) See more »

Also Known As:

The River See more »

Filming Locations:

Taipei City, Taiwan

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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 Rebels of the Neon God (1992) 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 ruby_fffSee 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.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 22 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

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