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76 of 81 found the following review helpful:
A Glance into Chinese Culture May 20, 2000
Being an American of non-asian descent, I know little to nothing about the culture of the Far East. All I have ever seen of Japan and China has been through the eyes of Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Akira Kurosawa films. So when I have the opportunity to watch a movie that is not only well made but gives me the opportunity to learn more about such a far away and different culture, I jump at it. This was such a film.
Let me first applaud the acting, especially by Mr. Lung (Mr. Chu) and Ms. Wu (Jia-Chien). They were not only convincing, but seductive in their roles. The story was realistic and, contrary to reviews by Leonard Maltin, was unpredictable. Who could have guessed the way the story would unwind, to the final Sunday dinner.
What I found most engaging about the film was the character Jia-Chien. Her relationship with her family was complex. Lack of communication with her older sister led their love to become buried in angst and confusion. And although she set out to become a successful business woman, she struggled to find balance between her work and her love of cooking and her father. It became apparent to me that she was her fathers favorite daughter, and their apprehension toward showing their feelings was clouded by their lives outside the family, until they came to accept each other.
The only other film about Chinese culture (not martial arts) that I have seen is Joy Luck Club, and although this did not feature the same level of drama and pain, I enjoyed it just as much. See this movie.
74 of 80 found the following review helpful:
feast for the eyes as well as the heart May 15, 2000
By Shelley Gammon
I simply adored this movie. The characters are so very real. You see them warts and all... their idiosynchrocies, quirks, talents, loves, etc. are all exposed to the point you love every character.
I saw this in the theater with English subtitles, then saw it on video... the video wasn't labeled as to how it was placed on the tape... and sadly, in lieu of English subtitles, they dubbed in voices... a very bad move. The only Chinese I understand is what I order when I go out to eat... but even if you don't speak Chinese, you get so much from hearing the real actors' voices. They are quite expressive. I am learning disabled and read very slowly, but I was able to follow the dialog without difficulty with the subtitles and still tell what was going on.
The talents displayed by the master chef & father in the film opens up your mind to another culture rich in history and talents. You really feel like you're a part of this family while watching the film and are emotionally attached to everyone in it.
A high quality, relationship-rich film coverning 3 generations of life & love. Not a sappy "girl movie" but an experience.
If anyone knows how/when/where to get this film on DVD, please let me know. I've been looking everywhere for it. It's probably available in China, but I'd have to have a copy w/ English subtitles.
38 of 40 found the following review helpful:
A Culinary and Emotional Feast to Enjoy... Mar 13, 2002
By Alvin Tanhehco
This film is set in Taipei, and is spoken in Mandarin. The opening scene of this movie shows Master Chef Chu at work in his own kitchen at home in preparation for "the Sunday dinner." (My mouth was watering after the first 5 minutes.) It's a ritual in the Chu family for the [widowed] father to get together with his three daughters for this weekly meal no matter how tight the schedules of or how unwilling the daughters are to come. The eldest daughter is a devout Christian and high school chemistry teacher. The second daughter is an airline executive and the youngest daughter is a fast food chain cashier.
All three daughters aren't married and aren't in any serious relationships at the beginning of the story. But as the movie progresses and each of them find love under the strangest of circumstances, each has an "announcement" to make around the dinner table come Sunday. The audience can't help but feel bad for the father who's getting old and seems to be at odds with her daughters for every small matter.
Each daughter's relationship reflects the uniqueness of individuals.
The important theme to this story is hinted at when the father repeats to his daughters that he has lost his taste a long time ago. The audience later knows that he was referring more to his taste for life rather than his physical inability to distinguish flavors. This lack of appreciation for life comes with age as well as his loneliness from accepting the inevitable -- that his daughters are going to leave him alone someday.
There are so many subtleties this film is able to capture about not only the Chinese culture but living with women in general. (I grew up in a household where I was the only male, and I know what the father must have gone through each day.)
I highly, highly recommend this film. As an added incentive, I intentionally left out the surprise ending hinted at on the back cover, as well as other minor details. Feast your eyes and mouth on this exquisite film!
14 of 14 found the following review helpful:
Excellent movie and it is NOT a remake. Oct 11, 2004
I would like to clarify that "Eat Drink Man Woman"(1994) is not a remake of "Tortilla Soup"(2001). It's actually the other way around.
I LOVE this movie. It's amazing because it touched me with it's honesty. This is one of my favorite kinds of movie where the director does not underestimate the audience and takes the time to tell his story with subtlety, reactions/expressions and wit. All the actors/actresses were outstanding especially Chef Wu and his middle daughter. This is a great way to take a peek into the modern Chinese family where the old generation traditions are clashing with the modern westernized ways. The direction was graceful and showed unexpected aspects of this conflict. The characters were multi-layered and totaly real.
I did not find this film slow moving or boring at all as one reviewer said. The editing was great and the cinematography was stylish. I actually want to watch this movie again which is rare for me. I can't say enough good things about this movie. Watch this if you were ever a child who clashed with your parents.
18 of 20 found the following review helpful:
A DELICIOUS SERVING OF LIFE, LOVE AND LAUGHS Jun 15, 2004
By Shashank Tripathi
Apart from a fabulous peep into the Chinese culinary worlds and its delectable blend of touching yet hilarious screenplay (a natural, unfolding rhythm), this movie for me represents Ang Lee's peak.
A bit like a Chinese version of Woody Allen's "Hannah and her sisters", the film traverses through the lives of three sisters and their father. Lee manages to tell each character's story with care and humor. There are some hearty laughs, a number of touching dramatic moments, and towards the end even a couple of startling twists.
There are a handful of movies that employ cooking as a metaphor of life. But Lee doesn't stop there -- he uses the *preparation* of food as a motif of life's experience as a whole, to include friendship and familial devotion, as well as desire, passion and love. On occasion, food also represents a substitute to all that.
Ultimately, what makes a movie like this work is how much you care for its characters, each one wholesomely well-drawn and glibly multi-dimensional. With the possible exception of a family friend, who comes across as a bit cartooney, there are no caricature villains. Everyone is complex and human.
A terrific offering from China that I highly recommend. You may leave with a craving for some noodles soon after..
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