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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> March 2001 >> The King of Masks

The King of Masks

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
2 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
March 2001
IMDB Name:
King of Masks, The (1996)
Wu Tian-Ming
MPAA Rating:


The King of Masks sounds like a charming film, and has the underpinnings of a good comedy. It starts out with interesting characters, a nice situation, and a bit of mystery, but doesn't go anywhere fun. Despite the lighthearted potential, the film is a drama that tries to extract tears by extreme measures. There are too many scenes filled with the yelling of a crying child to ever make this movie palatable. Does the story of an old street performer and his adoption of a new heir need to be encumbered with a life-and-death police subplot that drags the enjoyment to a screeching halt? I also had trouble with seeing an eight-year-old threatening suicide, even though the movie had labored tirelessly to make this seem like a reasonable course of action.

I am most annoyed, though, that the movie never reveals the secret of the masks. The catalyst for the plot is the performer's reluctance to reveal the technique to anyone, but couldn't the film take advantage of its omnipresence and show the audience? I spent the entire run time waiting for the scene where the disciple learned on camera, but my search was in vain. There is a scene where some irate soldiers are invited to watch closely, but the camera positions itself more for their reaction than for the view they'd have. I took advantage of the freeze frame on my DVD, and the trick definitely involves the masks rolling themselves up into the headband to remove them, but it's entirely unclear how they get there in the first place.

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Copyright 2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.