Wanderers, gods and stray dogs

God Man Dog movie posterGod Man Dog (流浪神狗人) is a Taiwanese film directed by Singing Chen (陳芯宜). The title of the film in Chinese translates as "Wandering God Man Dog" and the film wanders between three story lines which come to a surprising intersection near the end of the film.

The character of Yellow Bull (黃牛角) played by Jack Kao (高捷) is the real star of this film. He comes across a simple man who travels to religious festivals and collects statues of deities. His main struggle in life is getting together enough money for a new artificial leg. He pairs up with Hsien (仙仔), a homeless youth. Although both have little material wealth they seem content with life and accept whatever happens to them. 

Yellow Bull and Hsien are a contrast to the couple Ching, played by Tarcy Su (蘇慧倫), and Hsiung who live in an opulent Taipei apartment. Ching is battling with post-natal depression and their relationship seems to be headed for self-destruction. The third story line focuses on Biung, a Bunun man from Taidong and his kick boxing daughter, Savi. Biung struggles with alcoholism and his daughter seems unable to forgive him. 

The major theme of this film is religion. It is filled with religious imagery and delivers some poignant messages about what it truly means to practice religion. Some of the characters desperately grasp at religion as a savior from their problems, but it is the "wanderers" for whom religion forms a natural part of their lives that seem most happy and at ease.  Biung seeks help from the church to overcome his alcohol problem but the local minister spends more time berating him than giving support. Ching converts to Christianity in the hope of being saved, but it seems to lead her nowhere. It is Yellow Bull for whom religion is part of daily life and uncontrived who works a little magic.

There was quite a crowd watching this film at a weekday afternoon screening in Ximending. It screened with English and Chinese subtitles. The well constructed storyline and variety of believable characters make this film engaging to watch. I certainly recommend it. 

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4 thoughts on “Wanderers, gods and stray dogs

  1. I heard good things about this one. It’s nice to see the Taiwanese crowds actually going to visit Taiwanese cinema.

    Keep writing those movie reviews, I lov’em. I’ll be sure to check that one out.

  2. I just saw the movie yesterday in Schwerin, Germany where actually the Movie Art Festival (Filmkunstfest Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) takes place. Its an amazing movie so like the ones of Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, Amorres Perros…).
    greets marco

  3. Pingback: 10th Taipei Film Festival 2008 - David on Formosa

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