THE KING OF MASKS (1999)

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The King of Masks sounds like a high flying, kung fu fighting, revenge seeking type of movie similiar to the Masked Avengers by the Shaw Brothers, but slam on your brakes & abort this mission if you expect it to be because it’s not! The King of Masks was a refreshing & beautiful tale about an aging street performer who specializes in the slight of hand with changing masks on his face with dramatic body movements & expressions! The old man lives on a junk boat with his partner in crime, a monkey! They both perform on the streets of 1930’s china to make a living. One day the Mask King was being admired by another famous Peking Opera performer, Master Liang. Liang engages the Mask King about his extraordinary magic skills & proposes that he should not let his art die when he DIES by passing it on to the next generation. The mask king takes a cold hard stare in the mirror & so begins a quest on his mission to adopt a grandson who he can pass on his magic skills to! The magic man’s first disappointment is when he adopts a 8 year old boy only to find out that he has a teapot of a secret! The trials & tribulations continue to flourish between the old man’s relationship with the young boy & his journey to pass on his treasured art. He soon realizes that his real heir has been right under his nose the whole time! I wasn’t familiar with the cast of characters or the director of this film, Tian Ming Wu but this movie was a pleasant surprise! It told a good tale, the acting was superb, & the story was told in a minimalist type of setting with no distracting props or fancy stage sets. Who says chinese films are largely based on the Joy Luck Club stories, kung fu kicking comedies, epic warlord tales, or a triad themed hot mess? Checky..this flicky..I’m outty!

–Mr. C

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