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Dim Sum [DVD] [1985]

1 customer review

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  • Actors: Laureen Chew, Kim Chew, Ida Fo Chung, Cora Miao, Victor Wong
  • Directors: Wayne Wang
  • Producers: Wayne Wang, Tom Sternberg, Danny Yung
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Drakes Avenue
  • DVD Release Date: 7 Sept. 2009
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B002BB7VUS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,210 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


In San Francisco, an immigrant Chinese widow welcomes the New Year with some unhappiness: she's 62 now, she wants to make a trip to China to pay last respects to her ancestors, a fortune teller has told her this is the year she'll die, and a daughter, Geraldine, remains unmarried. Geraldine does have a boyfriend, but she's not sure she's ready for marriage, and, anyway, he lives in Los Angeles and Geraldine doesn't want to leave her mother alone in her declining years. Mrs. Tan's cheerful brother-in-law tries to help out. Is there any solution that will enable Mrs. Tan to hold onto her culturally-influenced and deep-seated hopes, yet keep those hopes from suffocating Geraldine?

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jay on 28 Mar. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Had an old VHS version so very glad that it's a DVD. A must watch and keep for every Chinese person.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Landmark Asian American Film 2 Feb. 2006
By onlineshopaholic - Published on
Format: DVD
When I first saw this in 1985, it was the first time I saw on the big screen a genuine portrayal of the Asian American experience. I fell in love with this film. At last! My experience and my culture in commercial media. It rang so true to me, and I was and am thankful that Wayne Wang created such a gem. There are many beautiful shots in this film, and detailed depictions of Chinese American life: ie, the shoes at the front door, which is typical of Chinese American households; the bird cage with the red paper character luck placed upside down, meaning luck will descend upon you (unfortunately such details went right over the head of the reviewer below). The Cantonese is a bonus, it's my native language, and there it is in film, and lots of it.
I saw Chan is Missing later, and that, of course, is another landmark film, portraying the diversity in the Chinese American and Asian American community.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Slow paced story about a 1980s Chinese-American family 20 Feb. 2006
By Zack Davisson - Published on
Format: DVD
It is hard to decide if "Dim Sum:A Little Bit of Heart" is a good movie or not. It is a very low-budget, slice-of-life film that shows a Chinese-American family living in San Francisco during the 1980s. There is no false drama imposed on the family, and their life is no more exciting than mine. The dialog is realistic, with awkward pauses and such. The mother speaks mostly sub-titled Chinese, although the rest of the characters speak mostly English. There are some minor plot points. The mother, who thinks that she will die when she is 62 because of a fortune tellers prophecy, would like to see her daughter get married. Often, they just have dinner and chat. Sometimes they watch TV.

And that is the hard part. "Dim Sum:A Little Bit of Heart" can be down-right boring. Nothing really happens. It is just a few days in the life of a family, and not particularly eventful days at that. The characters all seem like nice people. Victor Wong, who I always like, is charming as ever. It is nice to see him in a lead role. The film is very dated. Each item of clothing screams 1980. It seems like a student film, and perhaps it was.

I think that if I had been a Chinese-American living in San Francisco in the 1980s, then there would be more in this film for me. All the cast is talented, and many appear in the most excellent "Joy Luck Club" by the same director. The ending is very heart warming, and worth sitting through the whole film for.

All in all, I recommend "Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart." with some reservations. Know what you are getting yourself in for.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
an intriguing character study..... 11 Aug. 2007
By D. Pawl - Published on
Format: DVD
DIM SUM is one of those films that you really have to be in the right space to appreciate. Thankfully, I was in that space and I enjoyed it very much! Director Wayne Wang cast a real life mother and daughter (Kim Chew and Laureen Chew) as his two leads--62 year old Mrs. Tam and her daughter, Geraldine. Mrs. Tam has reached the point in her life where she wants to make a pilgrimage to China to pay her final respects to her ancestors, while her daughter remains unmarried and takes care of her, as they live together as a family unit. We get a sense of the cultural struggles of women in this country (particularly women of bicultural heritage, like Geraldine, who is American-born, with a mother who remains close to her Chinese values). It is also a quietly humorous and gentle journey through their relationship's ups and downs. Though, I noticed that some people criticized it for being "uneventful," I beg to differ. I think this film is charming in its direct and non-flamboyant style and subject matter and that was something I greatly enjoyed. Very well done.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dim Sum, Duck Soup and lots of heart 29 Jan. 2010
By Hui Shen ben Israel - Published on
Format: DVD
This film is absolutely dazzling. I'd heard of it for nearly 22 years, but only just got to see it. It is virtually impossible to tell this film is now 24 years young. Firstly, I cannot even begin to count the films "Dim Sum" has directly influenced. In the first place, it is so beautifully made, so ahead of its time, that if you saw it 'cold', you'd never know it was 1986...unless you noted the older cars on the street, or lack of cell phones. It's a quiet, beautifully paced film with minimalist yet profound dialogue covering the happy and not-so-happy trails and trials of a typical Chinese-American family.

This not only gave birth to mainstream Chinese-American stuff such as Ang Lee's offerings ("Push Hands" comes to mind) influenced just about all the quiet, low-key indie films. It is possible this movie actually invented the genre of quiet, naturallypaced realism. The emphasis on family togetherness, food and even the dining room is something I've seen from "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" to "The Wedding Banquet" to "Down in the Delta" and "Dirty Laundry" (which are black-oriented films that I call "Black South Diaspora films"). What vision, what reach from 1986!

Victor Wong, who was so busy at this time with some major films ("Big Trouble in Little China", "Joy Luck Club") absolutely shines. I'd seen his interviews in the documentary "Chan Is Missing", and the character he plays in "Dim Sum" is so very like him in real life. The way he talks about Chinese culture is fascinating...and he did the same thing in "Big Trouble in Little China", in spite of having to contend with a hammy performance by Kurt Russel. (In the documentary CHAN IS MISSING, one scene that blew me away was the brief shot of Victor walking through the streets of Chinatown. So real, so Victor, and so much fun just to see it again after all this time. Victor Wong, walking around Chinatown. Precious and priceless.)

In DIM SUM, the lady who plays the widowed mother--whose name always escapes me--is also charming, and her performance drew tears from my jade-like eyes because she was so like my own relatives. This cannot be missed. Here Victor Wong is as comfortable as the old shoes we see at the foyer of the house (we always did that too, and my wife and I do it to this day). The old widow is delightful, an actress I still can't decide whether I can remember from old movies or not. The storyline is so basic, yet I think the missing element in other reviews is the deep, unending love between the old widow and her daughter. There, too, is the deep love with Wong's character, who plays the 'uncle' in this film. Truly, I can even see how this movie influenced Jackie Chan's films like "Rumble in the Bronx".

If you only ever get one of these kinds of 'Chinese family films', get this. It is meditative, soothing, beautiful and at times surprisingly touching. The acting and dialogue is unvarnished and charming as a Chinese spring morning. This is what film is all about, and I'm sorry about two things: 1) This film is virtually unheard of in America. 2) It was so far ahead of its time the style didn't really take until nearly 10 years later, when so many crappy indie films came out in the 1990s. Get it and cherish it. There is no "Follywood" in this jewel of a film.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Gem for discerning viewers - 2 by 4s to the head not allowed. 8 Sept. 2006
By Machgman - Published on
This movie gives the viewer an intimate slice of the Chinese-American experience in the 80s. If you are looking for a chop-socky movie or a "beat you over the head with 2 by 4s to spell out what the images and meanings are" movie, this is simply not for you. Instead, go see a Beavis and Butthead episode.

Even in the fast past hustle of the western world, the movie shares how Asians are often able to maintain a serene life flow while facing important aspects regarding the end (mother) and continuation (daughter) of life issues. By dispensing with pre-conceived expectations and seeking the meanings behind what the director is conveying, the viewer can gain a entry into this quiet, quaint, and accurate world of this family.

Viewed from an undiscerning mind with old western prejudices, this movie has no value. If you want to gain entry into the world of these Chinese characters and gain invaluable understandings, see and question every cultural aspect that the director shares with his viewers. In the end, you'll learn and understand a little bit how the majority of the world's population deal with life's issues.
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