The King of Masks

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The King of Masks at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville).
Genre: Drama
Director: Tian-Ming Wu
Starring: Zhigang Zhang, Zhigang Zhao, Renying Zhou, Xu Zhu
Rated: NR

The King of Masks is a 1996 Chinese film that didn’t come out in the US till 1999 and had a very small release. Its greatest impact seems to have come on home video with a great many people finding it comparable to, but better than, Whale Rider (2003). I’d argue neither position. This a calculating but obviously deeply felt film about an aging, childless street performer. Having no one to pass his craft on to, he buys an 8-year-old child to adopt. Unfortunately, it turns out that the child is only pretending to be a boy in order to better her chances for adoption (she’d been returned several times previously). Despite the deception, the old man has become attached to the child—even though she’s not suited (being a female) to inherit his craft. Yes, it’s all aimed at touching the heart, but it does it well.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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