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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Love Equals a Chinese Feast, 4 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Eat Drink Man Woman [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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]
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 May 2010, 22:51:55 BST
Jessica says:
Very detailed review - I feel as if I have just watched it again. I wish this film would be released on Region 2 DVD for us in the UK - I have an old VHS version but it's my favourite film and I would love to have it on DVD. In my opinion it is not nearly well enough known - a fantastic film - and I have also watched it many times and got more out of it each time!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 May 2010, 19:03:55 BST
Erika Borsos says:
Thank you for your kind remarks. Your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated.
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