The Puppetmaster (1993) Script

The treaty of Shimonoseki... signed by the Manchu government in 1 895... ceded Taiwan and the Pescadores to Japan.

Subsequently, Japan controlled Taiwan for 50 years... until the end of World War II.

Ahui, how many tables will you set for your grandson's birthday?

Just a few.

For close friends and family... why be so extravagant?

If you are generous to others, they will be generous to you.

That's how it should be done.

No, no.

Just close friends and relatives... so that the boy will have people to look after him when he grows up.

That's not the way to do it. You should throw an extravagant party.

That's right.

That's how it should be done.

Mangdang, now that you're a father... you're going to be very busy.

Here comes the baby.

How cute.

What a nice big head and round face.

Come!

Tienlu, let grandpa hold you.

To speak of man's fortunes...

My father was married... into my mother's home, losing his own family name.

When I was born... my maternal grandparents... who went by the ancient traditions... had my fortune read by a fortune-teller... who said that... my fortune was a tough one.

To change things, I had to change the way I called my parents...

So I should call my father "uncle"... and my mother "aunt."

This is how we did things in the old days... all through the advice of fortune-tellers.

In the days of the Japanese occupation... births had to be registered within one month.

My father, whose name was Ko... went and registered me as Ko Tienlu.

But right after that... my maternal grandfather went and registered me as Li Tienlu.

The police said, "You can't do that.

His father's last name is Ko, so his last name should also be Ko.

If you call him Li... it's like writing a composition with the wrong title."

That made my grandfather real mad.

But, he thought, if he were to insist... that would really create a feud.

The man who witnessed... the original agreement... that gave my father in marriage to my mother's family, came to help.

His name was Li Yinhok.

A real just man.

He advised my father... not to make a big issue out of it.

He said, "Don't forget, it's you who's given up your family name in marriage.

At the time, your father-in-law made it very clear... that your firstborn... be it boy or girl, be given his family's name, Li.

After the first, no matter how many children you have... you can name them Ko or anything you want."

So when I was born, they called me Li... all because of the conditions of my father's marriage.

So that's how I was born.


"Moon sets, crows caw, the frosty sky...

Dim boat, lanterns through river mist, where melancholies lie...

Beyond Goso City walls from cold mountain temple...

To the traveler's boat, midnight bells sigh."


I thought you were a smart boy.

Why weren't you thinking when you did this?

You deserve to be beaten to death!

You have disgraced my good name.

What happened? What happened?

He stole some calligraphy manuals... from Granduncle Songling's house.

Stole?

Yes.

They punished him right before me.

But he's usually a good boy.

I tell you, Granduncle Tikim's wife is responsible for this.

She told him to go to Songling's to get the books.

She told him to take over 100 of them.

How was he to know?

Would you kill yourself if someone told you to?

Sooner or later you'll get your fingers chopped off.

Did we raise you to be a thief?


Come here.

Come here.


Ahui.

Officer!

What a rare visit. Please have lunch with us!

No, thank you. Have a seat.

What's on your mind, Officer? What's up?

We're here to take a count of... how many of you still wear pigtails.

We're here to tell you to cut them.

Cut our pigtails?

And then come to see the opera, as our guests.

I see.

Would you please ask everybody inside to come out?

Dang!

Liu!

Coming.

Gimto!

Mangdang!

Come over here.

They'll be right here. Fine.

What's up?

The officer wants us to cut off our pigtails.

You are...

Dang.

Lien Pikdung? Yes.

Li Teallui? That's me.

Li Setsuan? That's my brother.

What about Ho Gimto?

I don't think he's here.

And what about Ko Mangdang?

Mangdang!

What are you doing? Where is Li Tienlu?

That's him eating here.

These are tickets for the opera.


Are they enough?

Sure.

The officer is treating us to an opera in front of the temple.

Here is Ko Mandang.

Mandang.

What?

Get your pigtail cut off.

Where are you going?

I'll do it myself. Forget about the opera.


Piya is back from the hospital.

This time you were away so long.

Yes. How are you? You're back.

Tienlu, take this upstairs.

Are you feeling better? Much better.

Go upstairs and rest.


Do you want to lie down?

Come down later to eat.


I'll see you later.


To speak of living... the hardest things are separation and death.

I was eight years old at the time.

My grandmother was gravely ill.

Her whole belly was swollen up.

My mother was very devoted to my grandmother.

She set up a special altar... to pray to the heavens.

She asked the Gods to take her life in exchange for her mother's.

If you call it superstition, it's superstition.

But if you believe in it... it will prove itself very swiftly.

After only one month... my grandmother recovered... but my mother fell ill.

She was taken to a Japanese doctor.

The diagnosis was bad news.

She had tuberculosis.

The doctor insisted that... she had to stay in the hospital.

So, against her will, that's what she did.

She stayed for another two months, and was released... on the 13th day of the 7th moon, two days before the Ghost Festival.

She was recovering slowly, and was hungry.

She discussed with my father, and they decided... that since the Ghost Festival was coming, they would buy a duck.

This duck could be used as an altar offering.

Maybe this would help her appetite.

And so... my father took me to the market to buy a duck.

We ate it on the evening of the Festival.

The next day, my mother had a serious relapse.

Through the night of the 1 6th... until almost the break of dawn on the 1 7th...

That was when my mother died.


Come sit here.


You must call her Auntie. Auntie.

From now on, you must be good to Auntie.

Auntie will be good to you.

Come on, put on your new belt.

Tienlu, come on.

Take off your old belt. Put on the new.


Say thank you to Auntie. Thank you, Auntie.

Now it's Big Eyes' turn.

Big Eyes, take off your old belt and put on the new.


It is Chingming Festival, when we remember the dead.

The rain falls on the families who have come to clean the graves.

My name is...

Ko Hsien, also known as Hanmun.

My parents brought only my sister and I into the world, and unfortunately... they died early.

Through sister's kindness, I now run a medicine shop.

Today is the Chingming Festival.

Having swept my ancestral graves...

I shall visit the famed West Lake on my way home.

Alas!

Dark clouds gather. A storm approaches.

Let me look for shelter.

I'd better hurry.

Hurry

Faster Faster, faster, faster Faster I must go

Faster must I go

No delays No delays, no delays, no delays On the road

Ladies, hurry here to take shelter from the rain.


My mistress and I express thanks to this gentleman.

This is a chance meeting in the rain. No need to be so polite.

May I ask the name of this gentleman?

As Hanmun.

And may I ask your name, miss?

This is our master's daughter, Miss White. Her name is Sochin.

I am Miss Green. We live in the White Manor by the Jitong River.

A pleasure, Miss White!

The clouds open. The rain has stopped.

I also live in Jitong County.

Today I plan to hire a boat to tour the lake.

Would the two of you like to join me?

After touring the lake, the boat car can take us down the river... and I can escort Miss White back home.

Thank you for your generosity.

Follow me.


Old man, please come here.

May I help you?

I'd like to hire a boat to tour the lake.

Let me put down the gangplank.

Please ascend.


All aboard!

"It's the first lunar month, people Welcome all the new husbands While the single girl sits in her empty room Chewing betel nut with powder on her face Coral in her hand Waiting for a husband

In the second lunar month comes the Spring Equinox Ajinxed life have I Fated to row the ferry I eat on top of the boat and sleep below If the water spirits drag me down then woe is me."


Chun.

Mr. Li.

What a rare visitor.

What brings you here?

Please have a seat.

Okay.

How are things in Amoy?

Fine.

So, what brings you here?

Chun says she wants Big Eyes taken home.

What?

What are you saying?

You want to take Big Eyes back?

This is how it is.

An old neighbor here wrote to us in Amoy.

About what?

Look.

They said Big Eyes is being abused by her stepmother here.

They heard she even once threatened her with a knife.

How could she do that to a little girl?

Consider my point of view.

I don't understand how things could have gotten so out of hand.

So today I've come to take Big Eyes home.

This way... it'll be easier for you to keep your integrity.

After she grows up in Amoy...

I'll bring her here to visit often.

After she's grown up...

I'll bring her here... then you can decide whether you still want her or not.

It'll all be up to you.

Chun...

We raised Big Eyes every step of the way... ever since she was a baby.

I had planned to marry her to Tienlu.

I know.

When my departed God sister Piya was still alive... things were so right.

That's why she was wholeheartedly willing to have Big Eyes here.

Who was to know that the family would come to this?

I am saddened when I think about it.

Mr. Li, I think you should take a wider view toward this.

Take it as part of your fortune.

Even if you have no regard for my opinion... you should have respect for the departed Piya.

It is I who must answer to her memory.

I will take good care of her after I take her back.

As I said, after Big Eyes grows up...

I promise to bring her back to you... and you can decide what to do with her.

What do you think?

You decide, Mr. Li.

I decide?

How could things have turned out this way?

Where is Big Eyes?

Big Eyes.

Grandfather wants to talk to you.

Grandfather.

Big Eyes...

your mother wants to bring you back to Amoy.

Will you remember Grandfather's face?

I will.

Grandfather.

Don't cry.

Here is a dollar for your trip.

Mr. Li, here is five dollars for you.

For what? I can't accept money from you.

This is something from my heart, to express my gratitude.

Tienlu, come here.

This dollar is for you, to buy sweets.

You must behave yourself.

Big Eyes.

Grandmother.


Uncle, I'm home.


Who did you get in a fight with?

Who?

Damn it, who did you get in a fight with?

What happened?


Get my hat.

What are you doing, standing there?


Come down and eat.


Don't you ever come back!


One day away from home feels like a hundred.

Like a solitary wild duck, I am lost in the forest.

Though the scenery here is lovely...

nostalgic thoughts of home...

tug at my heart.

To speak of life after my grandfather's death...

It was a very pitiable childhood for me.

The neighbors that knew, sympathized with me... for I was abused badly by my stepmother.

Fortunately, Mr. Li from Jiuding... somehow learned that I had theatrical talent.

At the time his puppet troupe was short one puppeteer... so he came to our house to talk to my father.

My father said, "Sure, he can go, but what's the deal?"

Fifteen dollars a year to my father... with extra for each performance.

My father figured it was okay... so he took the $15... and I was off to the hills.

I performed for Mr. Li for one year.

At the time there were two troupes in Jiuding...

Mr. Li's... and Master Onglai's.

Onglai came to watch me perform and thought I was all right.

Before my year's contract was up... he went to Taipei to meet with my father.

He said he would give my father $30 a year.

My father was happy that the price was doubled.

So what could I say? He was a strict man.

So against my will, I went over to Onglai's troupe.

How strange it was. Their troupe didn't even have a name!

Since the troupe performed... in the mountains every day... we named it Mountain Panorama.

After eating every day, we would just sit there gazing at the mountains.

Someone's coming straight at us.

I shall spit the poisonous mist to subdue him!


He is subdued! Now we take him... to the cave, to feast on him.


To speak of man's fortunes...

My grandmother had a terrible life.

At home, she couldn't get along with my stepmother.

Her first husband had a son.

She went to the brick kilns at Hatavu to live with him.

Who was to know that... right after he gave a birthday celebration for me... he developed a hernia.

They took him to the hospital in Taipei for an operation.

They brought him in standing, but carried him out lying down...

Dead!

After the funeral, she went to live with her husband's grandson.

And you know... within a week, the grandson was dead!

After he died, my grandmother still could see things straight.

So she went to live with her daughter.

Her daughter had an adopted daughter... who was strong as a cement bucket.

But within three days after my grandmother arrived... even the cement bucket fell apart.

My aunt was so scared... that she escorted my grandmother back to my father's.

Two days after she got home, my stepmother fell ill!

My father was so scared... that he immediately wrote me in the hills.

I rushed home and asked what the big deal was.

He said, "From now on, the money you earn is yours own to spend."

"What's going on? Why has he suddenly changed?"

Because normally all the money I earned was given to him.

So I asked him, "Why?"

He said, "From now on, keep your own money.

All you have to do is take your grandmother into the hills... and take care of her."

I thought, "Not a bad deal."

With the money I was making... it wouldn't be hard to support my grandmother.

So I said fine and took grandmother into the hills.

So what do you think happened?

Nothing. She was fine. I was healthy.

No one got sick.

After about a year... one morning while she was in the courtyard washing her hair, she said...

"Tienlu, go buy me peanut candy."

I said, "You would really be a laughingstock... if people saw such an old woman eating peanut candy."

I said, "I'm not going to do it.

Anything else, but not peanut candy."

She said angrily, "You won't do it?"

So we left it at that.

Suddenly, while combing... she fell off her stool.

I rushed over to lift her up, but the neighbors told me not to.

They said when an old person falls, they should get up themselves.

She got up real quick.

She finished combing her hair, then said to me...

"Tienlu, take me to the bed."

I wondered, "What's going on?"

She was okay just then, but she wanted to lie down.

So I took her to her bed.

She laid down and stayed down.

She just slept there all day... for a total of ten days.

We called a Western doctor... who said nothing was wrong with her.

He told us to buy her whatever she wanted to eat.

I didn't believe she wasn't sick, so we called another doctor... and he said the same thing.

So I went and bought pork kidneys and cooked some shredded ginger soup.

She wouldn't eat a single shred.

One day an old man from the valley came.

He had always been nice to me.

He took a look at grandmother then took a look at me and said...

"Tienlu!"

He said, "We could just sit here... staring at her until this time next year... but she would still be the same."

I said, "How come?"

He said, "If you wait out the year, then she will immediately die."

Shit! What a thing to say.

He said, "Lucky for you, you were born under the Kwai Star.

If you weren't... your grandmother would have caused your death."

It so happened on...

October 31 of that year... on the day that the Japanese call the Emperor's Day... the Japanese police chief asked us to perform... at the precinct in honor of the Emperor's birthday.

I traveled to the precinct... to find the chief waiting there for me.

He said, "Li... do you have a grandmother?"

I said, "Yes."

"She died."

You figure it out.

"I stay home, she doesn't die."

I go to Chinkei, she dies immediately.

I told the chief, "My grandmother has died... so I have to go home to take care of things."

He said, "What? If you go home, who performs?"

I said, "But who will take care of my grandmother?"

He said, "Go. Get Ko Onglai.

Go get Ko Onglai to take care of things."

So I asked Onglai to go back to take care of things.

By the time I got home, after the performance... her body was stiff.

It was well after midnight when I started cooking rice for offerings.

Then, slowly, I straightened out her stiff body, still lying on the bed.

I thought, "It's so late... let's wait till dawn to worry about the funeral."

The next day I asked someone to go tell my father the news.

He said my stepmother was seriously ill... so he couldn't come.

He told me to just do... whatever's done in the hills... so we just buried her.

That's how I took care... of my grandmother's funeral.

The mountains are green The waters clear How beautiful the sights To walk slowly through the green...

To walk slowly through the green and let thoughts wander

The high mountains and dramatic peaks How majestic is the sight It makes one grieve to leave It makes one grieve to leave as thoughts wander

The high mountains and dramatic peaks How majestic is the sight It makes one grieve to leave It makes one grieve to leave as thoughts wander


Uncle.

Mr. Ko.


Have a seat.

I have good news.

Good news? What kind of good news?

Have they invented diapers for dogs?

No, no.

You know that Tienlu is now our premier puppeteer.

Our boss, Onglai... gets along with him very well.

He has a daughter called De... who is about Tienlu's age.

Everyone says they make a good match... and so...

Onglai has sent me to propose that... it would be a good idea if Tienlu... were to give up his name and marry into De's family.

Fuck you! Marry into her family?

Marry into her fucking family?

So what's the deal? Does he have to marry into her family?

As if my marriage into my wife's family wasn't enough!

You're asking too much!

Do you consider yourself the matchmaker?

No. I'm just...

Everyone asked me to come and discuss this matter.

Are you suggesting that I should marry her into our family?

Forget it! Who has money for a dowry?

So what are you complaining about?

Listen, if we wanted to marry Tienlu into another family... we would marry him into the Ling family that owns the medicine shop.

They've inquired several times.

I've got eyes of my own.

You think so? You've got eyes?

It doesn't look like that to me.

You've got quite a temper.

None of your business.

Don't try to complicate things.

I have my own eyes.

That's what you think!

If you let yourself marry into their family...

I'll break your legs.

The kid is a worthless bum.

There's no use giving him advice.


Onglai!

Here comes the bridegroom.

Have a seat.


Sir.

Please have a seat.

Have some tea.


It's lunchtime. Why are you eating eggs?

If you can't finish your lunch, I'll skin you alive.

Why are you sitting here?

Can't you go up and look after your sister?

Hurry up!

Those have to be taken to be repainted.

They haven't been used in a long time.

These puppets aren't bad.

Take these 1 5 dollars.

I'll give you more later.

What's the name of your new troupe?

I asked the storyteller Fu to give us a name.

He chose the name, "Also Like Life."

He explained... puppets in performance are like people... so puppet plays are "also like life."

So that's how we got our name.

Storyteller Fu is a real smart guy.

He passed the Imperial Examination back in the Ching Dynasty.

In the past, you refused to sell your puppets at any price.

Now you give them away. Why?

Shut up. What do you know?

If you were really capable, you'd make them yourself... and not have to come scrounging all the time.

What the fuck are you doing?

Even if I was a beggar...

I wouldn't come to your house to beg!


No need for you here.

Uncle...

We don't need you here.

Uncle...

When he was sick, you dropped by for a moment, then left.

So no use coming now. Go home!

We don't need you here.

Uncle...

Uncle, forgive my not fulfilling my filial duties.

It's Auntie who's chasing me out.

I'm leaving.

Then go!

Go home.


The five-colored butterfly... knows the scent of flowers.

Have you ever seen a wild cat... that doesn't eat fish?

Drink, gambling and women.

We rob in broad daylight or the darkness of night for money.

We rob in broad daylight or in the darkness of night... for money!

My name is... My name is...

Ong Ming. Li Biu.

Big brother, what nice weather today.

Tell me why we have no business.

Look, little brother. Here comes a man and two women.

They look like a cinch.

How nice!

Brother, row the boat to the shore.

Let's go.


May I ask if this boat goes to Jitong, near Hangzhou?

What a coincidence!

We were going there to pick up some noodles!

You are welcome to come along if you wish.

Ladies, aboard, please.

Watch your step over the gangplank.


Off we go!


To speak of theater... after I established the puppet troupe "Also Like Life"...

Japan invaded China in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

When Japan appointed Nagatanigawa... as governor of Taiwan... it was the third year after that incident... that had started the war.

In that year, all outdoor plays were prohibited.

In Taiwan's theatrical world... there were thousands of puppet performers and their families... who suddenly lost their means of living.

Later, a good friend of mine named "Attack Dog" Lao... organized a Taiwanese opera troupe called Red Jade.

I joined them and went south to Taichung.

We performed indoors, at the Happy Stage Theater.

I was in charge of all rehearsals in those days.

In the daytime... we performed "The Birth of Tripitaka."

At night, we played...

"Five Swordsmen Destroy Dragon Lake Temple."

That was more of an action play, with lots of sword fighting.

As for "Tripitaka"... it was a tragic play.

At the time we were performing in Taichung... something strange happened.

Two women came to see the opera.

At first, nobody knew who they were.

They came together.

One bought the tickets, the other stood at the entrance.

In those days...

I doubled up front as usher before the performance.

Later we found out that the standing one was called Leitzu.

In those days there was an expensive type of cigarette called Silasagi.

It had white storks on the package.

You could only buy them in Taipei.

There was no place you could buy them in Taichung.

She had gone expressly to Taipei to buy several cartons of Silasagi.

She stood there at the entrance, pulled out a pack and lit up.

In those days, there already were lighters.

Of course, they weren't called lighters like they are now.

She looked grand, standing there and smoking.

I remarked, "Look at these bird cigarettes.

I wonder where you can get those bird cigarettes."

Leitzu looked at me.

I looked at her.

She said...

"Do you want to try one?"

I said, "Sure."

Leitzu was a real generous woman.

She threw the whole box... onto the little table at the entrance.

The other women had just finished purchasing the tickets... and they went in together.

I tore the tickets.

She took another look at me as she went in, and I looked at her.

They went in.

I said to my colleague...

"I wonder where those two came from."

He said... we should get the stagehands to follow them after the opera.

Not a bad idea.

So a few minutes later, we began performing our opera.

From backstage, I peeked at the audience... to see what price tickets they had bought.

I told the stagehands...

"Let's make a deal.

After the opera is over, follow those two.

See if they're from number 2 4 or 25.

When you get back, I'll treat you to a snack."


Would you like a cigarette?

How nice.

Not bad.

She's laughing.

You like him, eh?

How beautiful.

So beautiful just lighting a match.

Miss... do you know that he fancies you?

Even more beautiful now.

Look at how they're stuck together.

The lips didn't even touch.

It's not lit yet.

Not yet.

Try again.

He said try again.

I didn't say it.

This is total submission.

Closer, closer.

Still not yet lit.

Not yet lit? No.

What's wrong with your eyes?

Cataracts.

I have cataracts.

Try again.

Still puffing? You haven't even lit it.

Light one yourself.

Mine hasn't come yet.

Miss? Miss?

When will she come?

Not bad, eh?

Tell me how it feels.

You keep nodding.

It's not as if you're inexperienced yourself. Why ask?

I don't know what this brothel feels like.

Just try it and you'll find out. Miss, why hasn't she come yet?

No one heeds me.

Let me check.

Thank you.

Hurry up and tell us.

I think she's very much in love with you.


Look this way. Smile. Don't move.


Well? Any that you like?


Why are you tearing them up?

I don't like them.

What's this you're wearing?

Come on.

This one isn't bad.

Right?


Where's Gui?

Tell her to come and eat with us.

What's the occasion? Why are we having pork knuckle noodles?

Because I like them.

Are the pork knuckles good?

What's the occasion?

Don't smoke, okay?

Why don't you say something?

I do what I like.

Is the meat tender?


Gui is crying.

What happened? I don't know.


Didn't Leitzu say she was going into business with you?

Business? You think it's easy to go into business?

Leitzu has some money.

Right?

She'd be good to go into business with. How about opening another brothel?

Right. Open my own Cherry Garden... with you as the manager.

Run it for your own use!

Tienlu, there's someone looking for you.

Gui.

Leitzu asked me to come over and tell you... her grandmother's sick, so she had to go up north today.

Come over if you are free later tonight.

Come here. I want to talk to you.

Me?


Saving the master's child

Is the servant's responsibility

To die for the child

Is death with glory

The scoundrel is back.


Who is it?

Tienlu.

Who is it? It's Gimying.

What do you want?

Open the door and I'll tell you.

What do you want?

Open the door, let me in, and I'll tell you.

Tell me what you want.

Tienlu, open the door.

What do you want?

Nothing. I just thought that since Leitzu went to Taipei today...

I'm just worried that you'll be lonely tonight.

No.

Tienlu, open the door and let me keep you company.

I said no.

I just don't want to see you sleeping alone.

It's no big deal if we sleep together.

No. I have rehearsals tomorrow.

Tienlu, open the door.

I said no, so go away!

Why are you so troublesome?

Go home to bed.


What's wrong with you?

Go home to bed.

Stop fussing.

Open up.

It's me, Leitzu.

How come you're back so early?

How come you're back so early? That's right.

How's your grandmother?

She died a long time ago.

So, you were testing me.

Didn't your heart itch at least a bit with temptation?

No?

Do you have your seal with you?

Yes. What for?

Nothing. Last month you sent 40 dollars home.

How about this month?

I sent it already.

Do you have enough money?

Yes, as long as Black Dog doesn't pay me late.

By the way... the troupe is going to perform in Boli day after tomorrow.

Black Dog says he's short on cash to hire a truck.

He wants to ask you to lend him 200.

Day after tomorrow?

Don't come with us.

Do you hear me?

Why can't I go with you?

What'll happen to business here if you come?

It wouldn't be good for the boss.

Understood.

I heard you.

Don't follow us!

Didn't you itch at all? How dare you test me.

Sister.

Gui.

It's a good thing you didn't open the door for Gimying.

If you did, our brooms were aimed right at you.

You would have been beaten like a dog and crawled away.

Not bad. You have proved your faithfulness to our big sister.

This is a worthwhile acquaintance.

Come have some congee. So you tried to fool me.

I'm glad you didn't fall for it.

That proves that you're faithful.

To speak of wandering, that is the life of an opera troupe.

After the Red Jade Opera Troupe finished its run in Taichung...

I had come to know...

Leitzu of the Cherry Garden very well.

We left the Happy Stage Theater and moved the show to Boli.

Before we left, I told Leitzu... that I would be back in ten days.

I told her not to come to Boli.

The second day after we got to Boli, she showed up.

I was real angry at the time.

I asked if she was afraid I would run off with her 200 dollars.

She said that wasn't the point.

She said she'd never been to Boli, and came for the trip.

I said, "What about the business?"

She said she'd only be away a few days.

After we performed for a week, I tried to chase her away. She wouldn't go.

We finished after the tenth day.

We traveled back to Taichung that same night.

The gossip in Taichung was very rude. The word was... a traveling actor had eloped with Leitzu of the Cherry Garden.

Leitzu was very upset at all the talk.

She told me to dress up and follow her. I said, "Where to?"

She took me all over the Cherry Garden with a cigarette plate... and formally apologized to everyone, saying I hadn't abducted her.

It was she who went to Boli to visit.

I had no choice but to go with her to every brothel in town.

She could afford it.

After we finished the rounds, my name was cleared.

But about two weeks later, Leitzu developed a sore on her lip.

In those days of war... the doctors couldn't do anything.

I remembered... a neighbor of mine in Taipei had the same sore and died.

Afterwards, a barefoot doctor said no medical doctor... can cure that kind of lip sore.

The only cure is to go into the fields and catch some frogs... slit one open at the belly and place the opening on the sore.

A minute later, the frog should dry up.

Leitzu was lucky I remembered this.

It was after midnight. I got the stagehands to go with flashlights... to the canal behind the Happy Stage Theater... to catch a bucketful of frogs.

Her friends came after the show to tell me.

I rushed over.

The stagehands got the frogs.

I cared for her all night.

One after another, we slit open the frogs.

They really did dry up after a minute over the sore.

Her face was so swollen... it looked like a pig's head.

I kept on applying the frogs to her lip... until 4 O'clock in the morning.

I touched her forehead.

The fever had gone down... and color had returned to her face.

I continued applying the frogs until daybreak... and touched her forehead again.

No more fever.

After that, I asked her friends to take care of her.

I told them to let her sleep.

I was exhausted and went back to the theater to sleep.

I slept until noon.

She woke up and saw... all the dead, dried-up frogs under her bed.

It was then that her friends told her... if it hadn't been for Tienlu... she would be dead.

They told her... the sore had swollen so much her eyes had disappeared.

Because of this... our feelings for each other grew tighter and tighter.

I had told her before that I was married with children.

But what about us? We are travelers that meet on a path.

I saw her future... as getting married to someone.

But if I ever told her these thoughts, she would label me insincere.


The remains of Shimazaki... radio operator for the Japanese Army... come gloriously back to his aboriginal Taiwanese village.

With his precious and limited life... he fought for the prosperity... of the Imperial Empire and world peace.

His death is like the falling of cherry blossoms in the morning sun.

A valued citizen of the Japanese Empire... in death he is a Japanese spirit.

The name of Shimazaki lives with the glory of the Japanese Empire... forever and ever.


Shimazaki... we have received orders to cut the American communication lines... on the New Guinean mountaintop.

This is a very dangerous mission.

Shimazaki, are you afraid?

How could I be afraid of such a glorious mission?

Taiwan is now a part of Japan.

We are citizens of the great Japanese Empire.

To ensure victory for the Imperial forces... even if I sacrifice, I die as a Japanese spirit.

It is such a joy, how could I be afraid?

Let's go, while the fog is on the mountain.

Yes, sir!


I've found it. Over there... the communication lines at the top of the hill.

Please wait here while I go cut them.

Be careful. Yes, sir.


Look over there!

The Japs are cutting our lines.

Shoot them!

Yes.

Good job!

Bastards!

Shimazaki.

Shimazaki, hang on!

I have fulfilled my mission... to die for the glory of the emperor.

Now I am truly a Japanese spirit.

Long live the emperor!

Long live the emperor!


Attention!


Long live the emperor!


During those difficult times... people from all walks of life in Taiwan... had a rough time.

All commodities were rationed.

There was no black market.

Anyone caught doing black market business would be punished.

Since all outdoor performances were banned...

I wandered from one theatrical group to another.

Leitzu, my lover in Taichung... was very much in love with me.

I had a wife and children in Taipei.

They say a man can't carry one chicken and expect two to crow... so I left Taichung and went home to Taipei.

At the time, I ran into Tan Tsuichin.

He had organized what was called a "reformed puppet troupe"... that did propaganda for the Japanization movement.

He knew that I was back and wanted me to join the troupe.

And so I became a member of the New Nationalist Reformed Puppet Troupe.

We performed Japanese plays exclusively.

One day, when we were performing in Hsindiem... the opening afternoon performance... the police chief of the country... came to watch me perform.

He asked me how much I was making... with the New Nationalist Troupe.

I told him that whether I performed or not...

I got 100 dollars a month.

He asked me if I had heard the news... that Hsindiem was also organizing a propaganda troupe.

I told him that I had just heard the news... from the locals in Hsindiem.

He said, "I want you to leave the New Nationalist Troupe... to join our new propaganda troupe to defeat America and England."

I said, "What are the conditions?"

He asked, "Where does your family live?"

I said they were in Taipei.

He said, "How many?"

I told him I had a father-in-law... a wife, a son and a daughter...

One hundred dollars a month.

"If you agree... to join the propaganda troupe... as lead performer... we will house your whole family in the Jinmi police dormitory.

That's near... where the whole troupe lives.

If you agree, according to the rules of the Japanization campaign... your whole family will be given Japanese privileges... and given rations accordingly.

Of course, your whole family's security will be insured.

As for your son...

I can get him a job in the police station as a 'kisu.'

That means 'messenger boy."'

He added, "I'll pay you more, too.

1 1 0 a month."

I thought it over. Not bad.

"But what about the New Nationalism Troupe?"I asked.

He told me not to worry about them.

He would have the minister of police speak to them.

I said, "If that's the case, fine with me."

So I agreed, and everybody was happy.

The minister went to talk to Tan Tsuichin.

Tan's face turned a melancholy shade.

He was asked a favor that he could not refuse.

And so he agreed.


Lunch is ready. Tell them to come.

Taro... ask them to come and eat.

Aiko, wash your hands and come eat.

Uncle, time to eat.

Let's eat.

Didn't I tell you not to let him drink anymore?

He said he's depressed.

He said his sister died last year, and he couldn't go home for the funeral.

He said he had no face to go back to Japan now.

Don't listen to him.

He's always depressed.

He carries his bottle everywhere he goes.

He's always drunk.

Speak Japanese!

Don't speak in barbaric tongues.

He was saying... he'd been in Taiwan for over ten years.

He was with the military.

All those who came with him... are now on the front lines in the South Pacific.

He's the only one who wasn't transferred.

So he's depressed all day.

He's depressed because he's a lazy bum.

What are you saying about me?

Don't worry. It's nothing bad.

I am a captain.

Where's your sense of protocol?

Why is his salary higher than that of a Japanese?

So you can perform puppet plays. What's so great about that?

You can never escape the fact that you are a colonized islander...

a third-class citizen!

What do you have against me?


Shit! How filthy!

Can't you look where you are before you piss?

What?

What are you doing to your superior?

What are you doing?


Mr. Li, it's finished.

Did you bring your seal? Yes.

Please apply your seal underneath your name.


Mr. Kaimoto.


Chief, this is Li Tienlu's resignation...

and here is mine.

Li.

Did you really hit Kubota?

Yes, I did.

You acted first?

Yes.

Why?

Mr. Kubota... has filthy bathroom habits.

He pissed on the road.

He just pulled out his pecker and pissed.

There were some women coming straight at him... who were shocked at the sight.

He goes out and gets drunk every day.

These are times of emergency.

Liquor is strictly rationed.

And yet he gets drunk every day.

Once he gets drunk, he starts talking... about how a colonized islander like me gets paid more than him.

I am a puppeteer, a performing artist.

But what is he?

Kubota... what do you have to say?

Just look at yourself!

You're still wearing yesterday's clothes!

Sorry.

How filthy!

Did you ever consider the feelings of Mr. Kaimoto... who introduced you to your job at the propaganda troupe?

Go home and think hard.

Go.

Yes, he is Li Tienlu's son.

What happened?

Sir.

Li Tienlu's son was caught trying to sell Ayu fish at the market.

What happened?

Hong...

It's really Ayu fish. That's right.

This is Li Tienlu's son.

After I delivered some documents to my house... he went fishing in the river and, by accident, caught some Ayu fish.

He was caught trying to sell them at the market.

Is Ayu fishing banned?

There's a ban on small Ayu under six months old.


Hong, is this where you were fishing?

Yes.

Mr. Kurokawa, give that fishing pole to me.

Yes, sir.


Hong, dinnertime.

Hong... dinnertime!

Your great-grandfather is calling you. Hurry.

What are you sitting there for?

Can't you come over here?

If it weren't for the chief... you'd be thrown in jail and stung to death by mosquitoes!

The chief was nice to our master.

In what way?

He defended Hong.

Otherwise, Hong would be in for it.

The fine for each Ayu fish is 100 dollars.

He'd caught a whole lunch box full!

The chief is really good to Tienlu.

He even took Hong to the riverside... and used the same worms as bait.

The Ayu actually ate the bait... and so the Japanese believed that he hadn't caught the Ayu on purpose.

I see.

To be honest, I see it... as an omen of things to come.

In what way?

Ayu never eat worms.

Why such course bait as worms... can catch such noble fish as Ayu... it looks to me like the Japanese are going home soon.

Enough, enough!

Eat as much as you can, but keep your mouth under control.

I say that because we're under our own roof.

But the Japanese say, "The walls have ears."

If someone is eavesdropping, you get sent to the firing squad.

Air raid!


Lunch is ready. Please eat.


I'm sorry we have nothing more to offer... just simple food and drink.


Please take care of yourself.

Taiwan is my second homeland.

To meet you here is part of my fortune.

Please eat more.


Grandfather.


Father.

What happened?

Nothing. It was so hot I slept in this coffin.

Now that I'm up, I have the shivers.

You're not properly dressed.

Would you like breakfast now?

Why is your nose bleeding?

My nose is bleeding? Go get some water.


Feeling better?

Much better.

I keep feeling cold.

Water! Water!

The ancients said, "Good luck never comes in pairs. Bad luck always does."

To this age I still ponder on how true these words are.

We were evacuated to a small village... that was near Aoli.

Who was to know that on the day of the evacuation... the seventh day of the seventh lunar month... a policeman asked us, "What are you doing here?"

I told him we've come as part of the evacuation of Taipei.

- He said, "Didn't you hear the sirens?" I said, "What sirens? More air raids?"

He said, "No, the Japanese have surrendered."

Japan had surrendered?

So he told us we went there for no reason.

But there we were... at a time when transportation was impossible.

So we went to the house originally assigned to us.

Who knows why, but it happened to be a coffin shop.

My wife thought...

"It's the seventh day of the seventh month."

So she cooked some oily rice as offering to the goddess of children.

My father-in-law's eyes always lit up when he saw a bottle.

If there was drink, he had to drink it.

So he got drunk and fell asleep in a coffin.

In the middle of the night... he woke up shivering.

I asked him what was wrong.

First he was cold, then hot.

The locals said he had contracted malaria... compounded by acclimatization problems.

He was the first. Then it was my turn.

The third was my wife.

Fortunately, my elder son and daughter didn't get the disease... but my younger son did.

He wasn't even two years old.

The fever was hidden... in his belly.

My father-in-law was in the worst shape.

My situation was less serious.

Every time I had attacks, they lasted an hour or so... and I would shiver until my nose bled.

Slowly the fever subsided.

I kept trying to get train tickets back to Taipei... but it was impossible.

Too many people had been evacuated.

I kept trying, but it wasn't until the 12th day of the eighth month... that I finally got the tickets.

So then what happened?

All my money was spent on doctors in that little village.

We buried my father-in-law there.

When we got back to Taipei, I only had 50 cents in my pocket.

What could I do with just 50 cents?

I hired a rickshaw... to take my wife, daughter and younger son back home.

My elder son Hong and I then walked... all the way to Dualungbong... resting 1 3 times on the way.

After we got home...

I ran into my first apprentice... whose name was Diu.

Ever since the day of the Japanese surrender... he had been performing straight, without rest... on Bingang Street.

He heard I was back and came to see me on the 13th.

He said, "Master, your old fans on Bingang Street... really want to see you perform.

Please go to perform for them."

I asked how I could perform... with fits of trembling... from malaria that lasted an hour.

He said, "Don't worry.

I'll take you there tomorrow... and we'll set up a bed behind the stage.

If you start trembling... we'll get you blankets... and you just sleep on the bed."

He promised to take over my puppets if I had to lie down.


Diu, take my puppets!

He's trembling! Get him onto the bed.


And so I say that man's fortunes... are unchangeable.

Just because we were evacuated on the last day of the war... my father-in-law died near Aoli.

Even my younger boy Mori... contracted the disease through his mother's milk.

I performed on Bingang Street well into the night.

When I got home, I found my wife crying.

I asked her what she was crying about.

She told me Mori died at sunset.

I said, "That's his fate.

He didn't want to continue eating with us... so he's gone. What can you do about it?"

So I bought some boards... and nailed a coffin together.

We asked a Taoist priest to bury him... so that he could have a quick rebirth.

I kept performing at Bingang Street.

People from Duadiudia and Manga came to see me perform.

But I couldn't leave Bingang Street.

One day, on my way to perform...

I saw dense black smoke coming from the airport nearby.

The whole neighborhood was talking about it.

I went to take a look.

Some people were beating Japanese soldiers.

The Japanese were spitting blood. I asked why they were getting beaten.

They told me how heartless the beatings were.

They had hoarded hundreds of sacks of rice.

If they had distributed the rice... they would have been heroes in the neighborhood.

But they didn't. Instead... they gathered all the rice up and set fire to it.

I went and asked the Japanese soldiers why they had done this.

They explained... the rice had been in storage a long time.

It had turned black.

It wasn't edible.

It had to be burned.

It was only after I explained this to the people... that they stopped beating them.

Then I continued my performance.

Another day I saw trucks heading toward the airport.

Soon after, there was a clamor coming from the airfield... the sound of hammers clashing.

I went to take a look.

The plane engines had been previously sabotaged by acid.

They were worthless pieces of junk.

They put the sabotaged planes in one hangar... apart from the good ones.

All the people from the Bingang Street area... towed the sabotaged ones out and started to dismantle them.

They called in these junk collectors... to appraise the junk aluminum... from inside and outside the planes.

Aluminum was separated from steel and weighed separately.

Everyone was having a good time.

I asked them...

"Why are you dismantling those planes?"

They said, "Where do you think we're getting the money to pay you?

The money for your performances... comes from this scrap metal.

You know, our gods answer our prayers.

That's why we've asked you to perform for them."

And that was the reason why...

Taiwan was finally liberated from Japan.