Drifters (2003 film)

Directed by Wang Xiaoshuai
Produced by Peggy Chiao
Yong Ning
Hsu Hsiao-ming
Written by Wang Xiaoshuai
Starring Duan Long
Shu Yan
Zhao Yiwei
Tang Yang
Jin Peizhu
Music by Wang Feng
Cinematography Wu Di
Editing by Liao Ching-song
Distributed by Arc Light Films
Release date(s) May 20, 2003 (2003-05-20) (Cannes)
Running time 120 minutes
Country China
Hong Kong
Language Mandarin Chinese

Drifters (Chinese: 二弟; pinyin: èr dì; literally "little brother" or "second little brother") is a 2003 Chinese film directed by Wang Xiaoshuai. The film is a production of Hong Kong's Purple Light Films and People Workshop with international distribution through the Taipei-based company Arc Light Films. Drifters premiered in the 2003 Cannes Film Festival as part of the Un Certain Regard competition.[1]

Drifters follows a young slacker, Hong Yunsheng, who has become something of a local celebrity in part due to his failures as a stowaway. Recently returned to his home in Fujian after several years abroad in the U.S. as an illegal immigrant, Hong attempts to reconnect with an illegitimate son.



  • Duan Long as Hong Yunsheng, the titular drifter in the film. Hong spent several years in the United States as an undocumented immigrant before being deported back to his home in Fujian. He spends his days loafing around his home town.
  • Shu Yan as Wu Ruifang, a member of a travelling Shanghai Opera troupe. Hong's love interest.
  • Zhao Yiwei
  • Tang Yang
  • Jin Peizhu


Hong Yunsheng is a jobless wanderer in Fujian. Attempting to find a better life in the United States, he enters the country as an undocumented worker. While there, however, his American dream quickly falls apart when he and his boss's daughter have a child. He was then told not to visit his son and he is made to sign a paper which is like a contract. He violates that by continuing to visit his son. Enraged, Hong's boss informs the INS and has him deported back to Fujian.

Back home, Hong again takes up his old habits, wandering around the town, unemployed and listless. At the same time, he attempts to find romance with a traveling opera performer, Wu Ruifang. Eventually he hears that the child he fathered in the United States is coming to Fujian. Desiring to see the child he has never known, Hong and his boss argue until eventually Hong takes desperate measures and kidnaps the boy.

The consequences for Hong, however, are just beginning.


Unlike Wang's previous film, Beijing Bicycle, Drifters received mixed reviews from western critics. Derek Elley of Variety claimed that the film's "potentially involving story is too often chopped off at the knees," and also found the movie's cast to be limited by inexperience.[2] Other critics were even harsher, finding that the film used over-direction to hide a simple and "syrupy" melodrama.[3] Still others, however, were more positive. Bérénice Reynaud of Senses of Cinema found the film to be superior to the "superficial" Beijing Bicycle, and put Drifters in the growing category of "mature, disturbing, thought-provoking masterpieces inspired by globalisation."[4]


Like many of Wang's films, Drifters was screened in the Un Certain Regard competition of the 2003 Cannes Film Festival on May 20.[1][2] In addition to this, the film was screened at ten major film festivals around the world. These included:

Home media

Drifters was released on Region 1 DVD on September 15, 2005 by Film Movement. The DVD was in the original Mandarin with English subtitles. Special features included biographies of the cast and crew, and a short film, Robot Boy by Ted Passon.[10] The disc's aspect ratio was 1.78:1 in letterbox format.


  1. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Drifters". festival-cannes.com. http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/4071971/year/2003.html. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  2. ^ a b Elley, Derek (2003-05-21). "Drifters Review". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117920839.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  3. ^ Tobias, Scott (2005-10-05). "Drifters". The A.V. Club. http://www.avclub.com/content/node/41288. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  4. ^ Reynaud, Bérénice (January, 2004). "Report from the AFI Film Festival:Bruno the Dog and Other Dreamers". Senses of Cinema. Archived from the original on 2007-09-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20070908112317/http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/festivals/04/30/afi_film_festival.html. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  5. ^ Tang Yuankai (May, 2005). ""Underground" Movie Directors Emerge". China Today. http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/English/e2004/e200405/p50.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Release Dates for Er Di". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379278/releaseinfo. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Drifters_Press_Kit". Film Movement. http://www.filmmovement.com/downloads/press/Drifters_Press_Kit.pdf. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  8. ^ "OFFICIAL PROGRAMME: 2003: THE LANDMARKS". Thessaloniki International Film Festival. http://www.filmfestival.gr/2003/uk/special.php. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  9. ^ "Saturday, October 2nd, 2004". The Calgary Sun. 2004-10-02. http://www.calgarysun.com/perl-bin/niveau2.cgi?s=films&p=88537.html&a=1. Retrieved 2007-10-12. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Drifters". Film Movement. http://www.filmmovement.com/filmcatalog/index.asp?MerchandiseID=34. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 

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