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Customer Review

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gave me a craving for Chinese take-away, 4 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Eat Drink Man Woman [VHS] [1995] (VHS Tape)
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.
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Review Details

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Mr. Joe
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Location: Lacey, WA USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 847