Tue, Feb 22, 2005 - Page 16 News List

Tsai Ming-liang's father figure dies

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

After winning three awards at the closing ceremony of the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) lost his favorite actor Miao Tien (苗天) on the same day. Miao was a favorite father figure for Asian movie fans.

Miao died Saturday evening of lymph cancer at Taipei's Veteran's Hospital (榮總). He was 80.

The actor gained fame for his role as the villain in the martial-arts classic Dragon Inn (龍門客棧) and for roles in other martial arts movies in the 1970s.

Before dying, Miao wrote a note to his wife saying: "I will be strong. I'm always a tough guy," his wife Liu Mei-lin (劉梅林) was quoted in local media as saying.

Miao's last film was Tsai's Goodbye Dragon Inn (不散). In the film, Miao sits in the movie theater watching himself in Dragon Inn. In the last scene he holds his grandson as he walks down the hallway of the theater in one of the most classic shots of all his movies.

Miao's original name is Miao Yen-lin (苗延林). He was born in 1925 and became an actor at the age of 17. He acted in more than 100 movies, working with renowned filmmakers such as King Hu (胡金銓) and Lee Han-hsing (李翰祥). The 1967 film Dragon Inn was a turning point in his career, making him the top choice to play villains in martial-arts movies.

Miao retired in 1987 and rejected numerous offers until Tsai convinced him to play the father in Rebels of the Neon God (青少年哪吒) in 1992. He then went on to act in six of Tsai's subsequent films, always playing the role of father to Lee Kang-sheng (李康生) and the husband of Lu Yi-ching (陸弈靜).

Off-screen, Miao was affectionately called Papa Miao (苗爸) or Uncle Miao (苗叔) by Tsai, who considered him a father not only in his films, but also in real life.

"I felt that he had silently given me a blessing from heaven, helping me to win the awards," Tsai said upon his arrival yesterday at CKS International Airport from Berlin.

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