ASIAN FILM - Review
11:00 - 21st November 2015, by NEO Staff

The Ang Lee Trilogy

Long before Hollywood came calling, Ang Lee began his career directing beautifully observed, low budget family dramas dealing with the clash of cultures and generations. Lee’s first three features, collected here, share several common threads and lead actor Lung Shihung, who is consistently marvellous even as the director grows more confident and articulate with each movie.

Food plays a vital role in all the stories – in Pushing Hands retired martial arts master Chu (Lung) eats in awkward silence opposite his resentful American daughter-in-law (Deb Snyder), divided by their lack of a shared language and her insistence on nibbling at salads rather than sharing his Chinese food. The Wedding Banquet sees Wai-Tung (Winston Chao) try to hide the fact that he’s gay from his parents by marrying Wei-Wei (May Chin), an artist who needs a Green Card. Lee shows a lighter, more playful touch this time and May Chin in particular has excellent comic timing.

Eat Drink Man Woman is the story of Chu (Lung), a widowed chef living with his three unmarried daughters all of whom secretly want to move out. Chu is losing his sense of taste even as his refuses to let his culinary talented middle daughter Jia-Chien (Wu Chien-Lien, who is superb) into his kitchen. The script is full of surprises, with a fantastic twist in the final act, and the story’s testament to the bonds of family is deeply moving.

Often called Lee’s ‘Father Knows Best’ trilogy, these three wonderful films are treasures of Taiwanese cinema.
SCORE: 5/5
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