on 19 January 2011
This is a movie about food, about life in Taiwan and about human nature. In mainland China, hardline Communist Mao repressed the traditional Chinese cuisine as an expression of bourgeois decadence. Everyone had to have the same bowl of rice, and in fact they were lucky to get even that. In Taiwan, on the contrary, traditional Chinese food thrived and flourished, side by side with local Taiwanese as well as Japanese cuisine. In fact I have had my best Chinese food ever in Taiwan, and Hong Kong, not China. And in the end, our protagonist is right, Eat Drink Man and Woman, what else is really important in life? Strongly recommend to see this movie early in the evening so you can book yourself a table at a good Chinese restaurant afterwards!
This film is a real hidden gem - one that will appeal to both men and women. The twisty-turny plot revolves around a widower chef who is losing his sense of taste, and his three daughters, who at the beginning of the film are all single.
The first scene follows the chef as he prepares a Chinese banquet - it's absolutely stunning to watch the skill with which the food is made, and the beauty of the finished dishes. It turns out that this weekly meal is where the family catches up with each other, and where announcements are made.
I'll stop the synopsis there, as it's far better to just say that half the fun of this film is to watch as the plot unfolds - there were so many moments in this film where my partner and I both said "OH MY GOD!!!" because of some of the unexpected developments!
The acting is great, too - and easy to follow the nuances whilst reading the subtitles. I watched the film again immediately after finishing it, so that I could see the performances with the hindsight of knowing what each of them was hiding at the time.
- LOVELY FOOD almost constantly throughout
- Universal appeal
- Great plot and character development
the only tiny minus point is that the translation from Mandarin is a bit basic at times, but this won't spoil the enjoyment in the slightest.
If you're looking for a feelgood film with plenty of funny bits as well as romance and drama, this is really the film for you. I Loved it to pieces!
on 4 June 2008
This film is a feast for the eyes and senses. It will have almost *all* viewers drooling with delight and desire as Mr. Chen prepares his ritual Sunday meal for his three grown daughters and occasionally a friend and neighbor. Mr. Chen is a widower, a retired chef from a famous Chinese restaurant in Taiwan. He continues this traditional family gathering as a way of communicating his love for his daughters. As a Chinese male and head of household, it is awkward for him to express his true feelings without a mother figure in the house. The problem is - his daughters are adults and each has her own unique identity. Each of them needs to grow in her own directon and express her own individuality - this is when the fun really begins, as one by one in the film, the viewer is privileged to learn about the daughters' lives. Little does Mr. Chen realize just how modern his obedient daughters are and just exactly what events are transpiring behind the scenes in their lives to which he is *not* privvy ... until ...one by one their lives are revealed to his surprise. However, what is really amazing is - Mr. Chen is more modern than his *own* daughters realize and he has a few tricks up his sleeve which catch them unaware as well!
There are many wonderful themes explored in this complex film which to be fully appreciated should be viewed several times for maximum enjoyment. There is love, hope, survival, lonliness, friendship, death, betrayal, family values, and so much more. There is so much depth to this film that a lot can and likely will be missed, despite the fact it is a two hour film, it zooms by very fast. Mr. Chen's role is much deeper than one realizes, so the unfocused mind is overwhelmed by sensual data. Truly, several viewings will be needed and this is realized *only* after having viewed the film two or three times. The eldest and most beautiful daughter is a company executive for an airline. She is highly successful and offered a promotion to become a Vice President for the firm but it involves moving to the Amsterdam office. She is a modern career woman and carrying on an affair with a free-spirited Chinese artist. Little does she know what tricks her boyfriend has in store for her while she plays the role of single successful woman. Her life seems the most on track and the film reveals just how much of an illusion this viewpoint is. The middle daughter is more plain looking. She graduated with a college major in chemistry and teaches at a local boy's high school. She uses religion as an escape and became a Christian. She listens to Christian hymns even when waiting for the bus and traveling to and from work. Her "old maid" status is not lost on her teenaged male students who play a practical joke on her which went overboard and caused her great embarrassment. Amazingly enough, the new boy's volleyball coach greets the chemistry teacher and asks her to attend the team's games. He rides a motor cycle and is very cool. She does not know what to make of his overtures. It is when the students in her chemistry class play the practical joke on her that Chou Ming Dao, the coach comes to her rescue and a different kind of *chemistry* occurs between them. Something magical and unexpected develops. The middle plain daughter engages in uncharacteristic behaviors but due to her Christian beliefs, she follows her heart as well as the tenets of her faith but the outcome is totally unpredictable. She shocks her family with her announcement at the Sunday traditional family meal ... The third daughter is the youngest. She works at fast food restaurant and unlike her older sisters shows no promise to become college educated. She has a best friend whose boyfriend keeps hanging around the restaurant. The friend indicates she is making her boyfriend suffer and she feigns not being interested in him, very convincingly so. The youngest daughter advises the young man on love and matters of the heart, to the point of his realizing *she* is a better catch than his original love. There are many unpredictable twists and turns in the plot as each daughter works out her life circumstances based on her own interests and values ...
Meanwhile they are hoping that their dad will get together with Jin Rong's mother who returned to Taiwan after living in the USA. Jin Rong is a pretty young neighbor who is undergoing a divorce from her husband who cheated by having an affair. Her mother is returned to live with her and help raise Shan Shan her school aged daughter. Her mother could not get used to the culture shock of her other daughter having married outside the Chinese culture. It is quite clear, Jin Rong's mother has designs on Mr. Chen. Mr. Chen's daughters are encouraging these feelings. Mr. Chen pulls off one of the biggest unexpected and unpredictable surprise endings which truly makes this film one of the best I have viewed in a long time. This is a most highly recommended film. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]
on 7 December 2011
When this movie was released in the 1990s I like it a lot; it's about three Taiwanese sisters (whose age range from the early thirties to the late teens) living in Taipei with their widowed father, a famous chef who has lost his sense of taste. All the three sisters are single, so a major point of the plot is about their relationships (or lack of) with men. The most interesting of the three is in my opinion the older and plainer sister, who works as a teacher and is a practicing Christian. She is the most emotionally troubled of the three (though nothing really serious happen to her of to anybody in the film) and is played by Yang Kuei Mei (who would later play many risky roles in Tsai Ming Liang's movies). The middle sister is a young executive in some corporation while the younger sister seems to be still in high school. Seeing it now, I can see the movie is nothing spectacular, but is pleasing and well filmed by Ang Lee (Chinese food and its preparation is a motif of the movie, though it's not what I find particularly interesting about the film)
on 8 January 2010
I have seen this film in 1994, and really enjoyed it. I was pleased to find this DVD on Amazon to add to my collection. However, I wasn't aware of the different region in DVD format when I place my order. I am unable to view this region 1 DVD in UK. I sent it onto a contact in US to benefit the film. So I have learned my lesson that I need to check on the compatible DVD format before place the order. Given that I can't review the film as have seen it fresh, I go by my memory instead, and would recommend this film .
Nevertheless I am authoritative to comment on my experience of the seller's delivery service. The delivery time scale was 2 weeks. I consider this to be good for order from US, delivery to UK. Taking into consideration that the postal cost is charged, rather than free, the delivery time scale could better, in my view. So I rate this 4 *.
EAT, DRINK, MAN, WOMAN has been given such consistently superlative reviews that mine is likely to be pilloried. Oh, well, sticks and stones, etc.
Widower and Master Chef Chu lives in Taipei with his three unnattached daughters, Jia-Ning (the youngest), Jia-Chien, and Jia-Jen (the oldest). Chu lives to cook, principally as Head Chef in a prestigious city hotel, but also for his family. Indeed, the only contact he has with his offspring is over the gargantuan, gourmet meal he cooks every Sunday. Even then, however, familial interaction is at a minimum, and should a daughter reveal an important event in her life with the declaration, "I have an announcement", there's no subsequent discussion or paternal interest. As for himself, aging Chu is losing zest for life. Even his sense of taste is fading. Meanwhile, his daughters are looking for love.
Jia-Jen, still traumatized from being dumped years previous, teaches chemistry at a men's college, and otherwise finds solace in a Christian brotherhood. Jia-Ning works at a Wendy's (yup, that American fast-food Wendy's), and thinks her best friend's boyfriend is hot. Jia-Chien, an up and coming international airline executive, is attracted to the company's new business negotiator. Trouble is, he's the one that broke Jia-Jen's heart.
I mentioned to my wife that one of the best things about foreign films is the chance to see places we're likely never to visit, e.g. Taipei, Taiwan. Moreover, she responded, one sees that life elsewhere is pretty much like life over here. (I guess the Wendy's made a big impression.) Maybe that's my problem with the film. Though the acting is consistently excellent, and all the daughters pretty and worthy of audience sympathy, the movie as a whole, while congenial enough and providing a few chuckles, wasn't notably dramatic, humorous, or clever. I might as well have been spying on the mundane lives of the next door neighbors. Building a story around food has been done before, albeit with other cuisines. Even towards the film's end, when Old Dad chimes in with his own surprising "I have an announcement", the stir it causes passes swiftly. And his lack of overt connection with his daughters is like an airless vacuum. Only at the very end, with Jia-Chien, does his reserve crack a tiny bit. I wanted more of an emotional catharsis.
The best part of EAT, DRINK, MAN, WOMAN is the food. The scenes of Chu preparing his gourmet delicacies, blessedly without a single fortune cookie in sight, approach being fascinating. And they certainly left me with a craving for orange-flavored chicken - my favorite.