The Drummer

Director: Kenneth Bi
Screenwriters: Kenneth Bi

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


A remarkable genre redux, Kenneth Bi’s gorgeous new feature is a banquet for the mind and the senses. In the underworld of modern-day Hong Kong, Sid Kwan, son of a Triad mob boss and drummer in a band, recklessly rocks the boat between crime families (and not for the first time) when he makes love to Carmen, the beautiful paramour of his father’s rival, the notorious Stephen Ma. Sent far away from Ma’s vengeful reach by his father, Sid winds up in rural Taiwan: safe for a while, but still restless.

The unexpected happens when he stumbles upon a Zen drumming troupe, rehearsing and living together deep in the forest. Strangely entranced by the passionate and athletic music making, Sid asks to join in, and then to become part of this exclusive community. Impatient at his difficult apprenticeship, Sid soon finds a new sense of balance and a passion for drumming that addresses the chaos of his former life. But he also learns that his worthiness means confronting the legacy of his father and facing the music of his own past mistakes.

A totally unique blend of violence and lyricism, Bi’s feature offers agile direction, vivid characterizations, thrilling musical performances, and a strangely compelling harmony between the strikingly different worlds that Sid must straddle to evolve and be free.

— Shannon Kelley

Screening Details

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