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Tsai Ming-liang’s gritty first feature (1992)—about two hoodlums, a roller-rink girl, and a depressed loner whose lives occasionally intersect in the video arcades and love hotels of Taipei—marked the arrival of a major filmmaker. Alienated and frustrated, the characters seem as though they might kill or rape one another at any moment, yet the violence never comes; buried beneath the gloom and grime is the hopeful belief that a genuine connection between two people, however fleeting, is possible. Sparing with dialogue and camera movement, Tsai makes the action seem both mysterious and predestined; his use of recurring motifs, metaphors, and visual rhymes is about as close as contemporary filmmaking gets to the essence of poetry. This is a near-masterpiece, and one of the most assured and accomplished debuts of the 1990s. In Mandarin with subtitles.