Like many people reading this review, I’ve had a love affair with cinema for most of my life. It’s never been just about the films, it’s the whole experience. From arriving in the foyer, to entering the screen. The ads (sadly). The trailers. The whole kit and kaboodle. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s a very personal experience but also one which you’re sharing with others, for good or ill. Goodbye, Dragon Inn is Ming-liang Tsai’s love letter to cinema.

In Taipei City, an old capacious picture palace is having its last hurrah. The final film to grace its screen is King Hu’s classic Dragon Inn. A once thriving and vibrant theatre, today it is largely deserted as ‘no one watches films anymore’. Whilst the pitiful audience watch on, the ticket collector (Chen Shiang-chyi) tries to find the projectionist (Lee Kang-sheng) in order to present him with a steamed bun. A Japanese tourist goes ‘cruising’ through the building whilst one of the original actors watches on.

Goodbye, Dragon Inn is a wonderful celebration of the tiny joys and frustrations which make cinemas such magical places. It’s all about the experience. The poetry of being surrounded by storytelling. By awe and wonder. Immersed within the moment and transported to far-off shores. Cute casting, slow but calculated pacing and an element of intrigue produce a poetic and lyrical tribute to the power of celluloid.   

Blu-ray special features:

  • Goodbye, Dragon Inn presented from a brand new 4K restoration of the film.
  • A new and exclusive filmed interview with director Tsai Ming-Liang.
  • Madam Butterfly (2009, 36 mins): world home-video premiere of Tsai’s remarkable modern-day interpretation of the classic story.
  • Booklet featuring new essays by curator and critic Tony Rayns, plus a personal appreciation by filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
  • New and improved English subtitle translation.
  • Original soundtrack in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Stereo LPCM (24-bit)
  • World premiere on Blu-ray
  • Region free Blu-ray (A/B/C)

Goodbye, Dragon Inn is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Second Run on 23 November.