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Taiwan 1994
Directed by
Ang Lee
124 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Eat Drink Man Woman

Ang Lee's follow-up to his surprise 1993 box-office hit The Wedding Banquet takes some of the elements of that film, notably Winston Chao as a good-looking executive, Sihung Lung as a widowed father of three grown children and Ah-Leh Gua as widow looking to snare him, along with the themes of traditional Chinese values and the generational divide and revisits them with greater success,

Sihung  plays master chef Chu, a widower who lovingly cooks large Sunday dinners for his three single daughters who find the ritual oppressive, particularly as their father seems to be losing his sense of taste making it difficult for them to lavish him with the praise he yearns for. Jia-Chien (Chien-Lien Wu) is a successful executive who harbours a desire to be a chef like her father. Her older sister Jia-Jen (Kuei-Mei Yang) is a plain and rather prim but emotionally vulnerable teacher who falls madly in love with a volleyball coach at her school whilst the youngest daughter, Jia-Ning (Yu-Wen Wang), is a college student who works at a Wendy's and becomes pregnant to her equally young  boyfriend.

As with the previous film, the director’s fascination with traditional Chinese values in an increasingly Westernized society is palpable but what makes the film particularly delicious is the intertwining of food and emotional life particularly as it represents the sole form of expression the father will allow himself.  The performances all round are excellent, the story deftly-crafted  and the presentation of Mr Chu’s table is mouth-watering.  And this time, unlike The Wedding Banquet, the feel-good ending works. Eat Drink Man Woman is a treat.

FYI: The film was re-made in 2001 as Tortilla Soup and re-located to LA's Mexican community. Despite having the same writers, including Lee, it was entertaining enough but lacked substance.




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