top of page


In its final ten minutes the many subdued nuances in Goodbye, Dragon Inn add late poignancy to a tale that nevertheless too often holds back on emotions in favour of an artsy visual approach.

If you go into Goodbye, Dragon Inn expecting a touching eulogy for the movie-going experience you will probably walk away disappointed. That's not to say that this Taiwanese movie doesn't offer its fair share of intriguing moments.

Renowned 'slow cinema' director Tsai Ming-liang recreates the final showing of the wuxia classic Dragon Inn at a Taipei movie theatre that will close its doors forever afterwards, but he's not really interested in easy emotions. Instead he focuses on the mostly wordless acts of the patrons and staff, which range from loudly eating sunflower seeds to cleaning the toilets and cruising the cinema for a gay companion.

Goodbye, Dragon Inn barely lasts 80 minutes but because Tsai utilises very long takes in which not a lot happens, the picture feels a longer and occasionally slips into tedium. Some scenes do fascinate however, even if they don't reveal their true meaning until much later, in the final act.

That closing stretch offers a fine reward for audience members who stick with Tsai's vision, as the many metaphors he employs gain a clarity that's not always there in the run-up to the final moments. Still, those not familar with Taiwanese culture will likely leave the theatre in equal parts intrigued and perplexed, with as many questions as answers.

In that regard Goodbye, Dragon Inn will never be the kind of film that makes you fall in love with cinema, like for example Cinema Paradiso does. Not that this was ever Tsai Ming-liang's intention, mind you.

release: 2003

director: Tsai Ming-liang

starring: Chen Shiang-chyi, Mitamura Kiyonobu, Lee Kang-sheng, Jun Shih


bottom of page