Combustible Celluloid
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With: Li Tien-lu (as himself), Lim Giong, Lin Chung, Bai Ming Hwa, Cheng Fue Choung, Liou Hung, Tsai Chen-Nan, Yang Lai-Yin
Written by: Chu T'ien-wen, Wu Nien-Jen, based on a story by Li Tianlu
Directed by: Hou Hsiao-hsien
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Mandarin, Taiwanese & Japanese with English subtitles
Running Time: 142
Date: 09/13/1993

The Puppetmaster (1993)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Life on a String

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of the biggest events in DVDs this year: Fox Lorber releases the entire Hou Hsiao-hsien collection. Hailing from Taiwan, Hou is considered one of the two or three finest filmmakers in the world today, though none of his films has ever been officially released in the United States. A 1999 touring retrospective of his films sold out nearly everywhere it went, proving that an audience exists for these magnificent films. The first titles in the collection is perhaps one of the best, The Puppetmaster (1993). The Puppetmaster skillfully combines documentary and fiction filmmaking to tell the story of Taiwan's national treasure, the octogenarian puppeteer Li Tien-lu, who appears onscreen narrating his own story, while Hou re-interprets and re-creates his younger years using actors and sets. (Not to be confused with the 1989 American horror film.)

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