Rebels of the Neon God

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Rebels of the Neon God
Rebels of the neon god.jpg
Mandarinqīngshàonián Nézhā
Literallyteenage Nezha
Directed byTsai Ming-liang
Produced byHsu Li-kong
Written byTsai Ming-liang
StarringLee Kang-sheng
Chen Chao-jung
Jen Chang-bin
Music byHuang Shu-jun
CinematographyLiao Pen-jung
Edited byWang Chi-yang
Release date
Running time
106 min.
127 min. (Canada)

Rebels of the Neon God is a 1992 Taiwanese film directed by Tsai Ming-liang. It stars Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Chao-jung, and Jen Chang-bin.


A young man named Hsiao Kang attends a buxiban (cram school) and lives with his parents. Ah Tze and Ah Ping are petty thieves. After a night out, Ah Tze returns to his flooded apartment. The next morning, he meets Ah Kuei, a young woman who has spent the night in another man's room. Ah Kuei does not know where she is, and Ah Tze gives her a ride on his motorcycle. Hsiao Kang's motorcycle is impounded, and his father, a taxi driver, gives him a ride. During an altercation in traffic, Ah Tze breaks the side mirror on Hsiao Kang's father's taxi.

Ah Tze, Ah Ping, and Ah Kuei hang out together at night and get drunk. Ah Kuei passes out, and the two men leave her in a hotel room. In the morning, Ah Kuei calls Ah Tze and asks to see him again. Hsiao Kang drops out of his school and gets a refund. Hsiao Kang sees Ah Tze, stalks him for awhile, and watches Ah Tze and Ah Ping rob an arcade by taking motherboards out of games.

Ah Tze meets Ah Kuei, and she is angry that he stood her up. The two get a hotel room and have sex. Meanwhile, Hsiao Kang finds Ah Tze's motorcycle and vandalizes it. Hsiao Kang then tries to return home after being away for a few days. His parents, who discovered that he dropped out of school, refuse to let him in.

Ah Tze and Ah Ping try to sell the stolen motherboards to an arcade owner, but the men who they stole from confront them. The men chase them into the street and beat up Ah Ping. That night, Ah Tze brings Ah Ping back to the apartment. Ah Kuei also shows up there. She tells Ah Tze that she wants to leave with him, and the two embrace. Hsiao Kang starts working for a phone dating service, but after sitting there, he leaves.



Rebels of the Neon God was Tsai Ming-liang's first feature film. He had taken a liking to actor Lee Kang-sheng when the two worked together on a television film. At the time, Lee was studying for college entrance exams. Tsai later said, "It was by spending time with Hsiao Kang as he went through the whole experience that I decided that I wanted to make a simple film about a kid trying to get into college, which became Rebels of the Neon God. I wanted to explore what a kid would do if he couldn't get in. Where would he go? What would he do?"[1]


The Taiwanese title refers to Nezha, a powerful child god in Chinese classical mythology who was born into a human family. Nezha is impulsive and disobedient. He tries to kill his father, but is brought under control when a Taoist immortal (Nezha's spiritual mentor) gives the father a miniature pagoda that enables him to control his rebellious son. This resonates in the film a number of ways: Hsiao Kang's mother believes that he is Nezha reincarnated, and Tze and Ping try to pawn off some stolen goods to an arcade proprietor named Nezha. Before the pawning of the stolen goods, Hsiao Kang vandalizes Tze's motorcycle, including graffiti stating "Here is Nezha."


The film has a score of 82 on Metacritic.[2] It has a rating of 100% at Rotten Tomatoes.[3]


The film won a Golden Horse Award for Best Original Score, a Prize of the City of Torino for Best Film at the Torino International Festival of Young Cinema, and the Bronze Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.


  1. ^ Berry, Michael (2005). Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers. Columbia University Press. pp.375-377.
  2. ^ "Rebels of the Neon God".
  3. ^ "Rebels of the Neon God (2015)". Retrieved 28 December 2018.

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