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飲食男女 (1994)
Eat Drink Man Woman

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 11/03/2008

Delectable to the last bite Ang Lee's "Eat Drink Man Woman" is comfort food for those in need of a warm, balanced romantic comedy-drama.

A widowed gourmet (Sihung Lung) whose recently discovered he's loosing his sense of taste attempts to fill his late wife's shoes at the Sunday dinner table where a circus of emotions often unfold. His eldest (Yang Kuei Mei) is a school teacher unable to move past a soured tryst in college and jaded by the flak she receives from friends and family over her conversion to Christianity. The middle child (Wu Chien Lien) is an airline executive out of sync with her family and views her seat at the dinner table as a duty to be performed. The youngest daughter (Wang Yu Wen) is a high school student who finds her empathy for her best friend's boyfriend spilling into romantic waters she's willing to chart.

Director Ang Lee keeps his script flowing by avoiding mawkish romances, heavy-handed comedy, and overstated drama -- all trappings of the increasingly popular romcom subgenre.

The chef's toothsome spreads took [off camera] over a week to prepare making "Eat Drink Man Woman" a film that should be served with a garbage bag full of Chinese take out.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/19/2007

“Eat Drink Man Woman”, like many of Ang Lee’s films, explores the relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. It seems low key—there are no villains and only a couple of characters are even unpleasant. Everyone wants to do the right thing—Chu wants to keep his adult daughters at home with him while he continues of mourn his wife who has been dead for many years while his daughters want to both live their own lives but realize that they are becoming responsible for his as well. Jai-Ning, the middle daughter, says that they communicate by eating. Chu prepares huge and hugely complicated Sunday dinners with enough food 40 people although only the four of them are around the table. Crises are announced at the dinner table in an almost ritualistic way as each of the daughters tells her sisters and father that she has a small announcement. The least jarring is the first—that one of them has purchased an apartment and will be moving out soon. Others include an unplanned pregnancy, a barely planned wedding and a long planned move to the other side of the world. The climax comes when Chu himself has his own announcement, a device that Lee uses to wrap things up.

The movie is beautiful. As it begins we watch Sihung Lung create a meal that starts with a live fish and a squawking chicken. Lam Leung-Chung’s camera shows all the art and craft that a professional chef brings to his work and in doing so creates a metaphor for the meticulous effort that Lee’s technical team undertook to create the look of this film.

The center of the film is the relationship between Old Chu and his middle daughter Jia-Chien. She very closely resembles her mother—the pictures of Chu’s wife from years past were probably taken from stills of Wu Chien-Lien. Like her father she is an accomplished cook but like her mother she seasons her dishes with too much ginger. She is the only one of the three not to get married during the movie. Even though Jia-Ning, the eldest daughter, seems bitterly resigned to her role as her father’s housekeeper it is Jia-Chien who is hostess for the last Sunday dinner, a meal with only herself and her father.

The conflicts in the family are solved a bit too neatly. The big shock toward the end of the movie won’t surprise anyone who was awake up to that point and the romantic peccadilloes of each of the sisters get resolved in a bit of a rush. The overall tone of the movie, with its themes of the importance of both holding on and letting go, shines through any structural difficulties.

“Eat Drink Man Woman” is worth seeing. If Ang Lee had stayed with family dramas such as “Pushing Hands”, “The Wedding Banquet” and “The Ice Storm” he would be a major talent. Having broken out with audience pleasing and Oscar garnering Hollywood fare doesn’t change that. He creates characters the audience likes, people that we want to see happy at the end and are pleased when they are

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 04/06/2006

This film was promoted as a spicy comedy. Well, spicy is too strong a word, and comedy it certainly ain't ! Depending on one's viewpoint, this is either a leisurely or dull but mostly quite grim family soap opera based around cooking. The texture is like unflavoured congee (rice porridge) with the occasional chili, frying your tongue at unexpected but too infrequent moments.

The old cook who's lost his sense of taste worries about the too-modern and free lives of his three daughters. There ARE a couple of funny scenes, including one which is downright hilarious. Without spoiling it, the scene concerns a woman's reading of a man's intentions then his revelation of what he actually wishes (a goldmine of humour anywhere !).

I was lead to believe that the majority of the film would be of this calibre. That it wasn't, was a big disappointment. And a warning : depending on what food you like, this film may either excite your appetite or entirely ruin it. Personally, the loving close-ups of dissection of fish made me ill ! Don't expect too much from this movie. But even if you see it with this in mind,
it's unlikely to be a satifying meal.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 11/08/2003

A movie about food and relationships, the title "Eat Drink Man Woman" is explained by the chef father as the essence of life. Everyone lives for these 4 things. And so, in this movie, there is plenty of delicious food and abundance of weird, strange, unexpected relationships. It's a pleasure to look at, although if I nitpick, the dialogues could have been better.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 05/15/2003
Summary: Good social drama

This is a very nice film which is easy to watch and involving in a subtle way. High production values, fine acting and direction make this an interesting alternative to the 2 to a penny Hollywood rubbish of similar nature.

Reviewed by: kurama_tengu
Date: 06/07/2002
Summary: A-List Movie.....Wonderful to Watch!

I was introduced to HK cinema by Chow Yun-Fat and "A Better Tomorrow". As a result, I have been a fanatic of HK cinema, mostly action and martial art types. However, due to my maturity in age and my purchasing of "Metade Fumaca", I have begun to really enjoy all types of HK movies....whether it be action, martial arts, drama, comedy, or romance.

"Eat Drink Man Woman" is just an example of my maturity when it comes to the HK genre. Not really a true HK movie, it still depicts the aspects of HK movies I enjoy....Chinese humor, beautiful actresses, Chinese culture, etc. What separates Ang Lee from his HK contemporaries is that he provides rich visuals, beautiful musical scores, and an absence of storyline holes that are all too common in your run of the mill HK flick.

"Eat Drink Man Woman" is a movie about relationships. The story surrounds a widower and his three daughters who live with him. Each of them represent a different phase of young womanhood. Each of them are going through situations with romantic suitors which affect their already difficult relationships with their father.

These difficulties begin to affect the father's once-fine culinary skills, as he begins to lose his sense of this case a metaphor for his feelings of love/usefullness towards his daughters. Add to that some other problems concerning his best friend and some close family friends and you have a recipe for an interesting storyline.

Although there are so many relationships described within the movie, it does not get cluttered, and Lee has managed to utilize the 2+ hours well. There are a few nice plot twists that will raise your eyebrows and make this an even more enjoyable story.

Sihung Lung is wonderful as the father/master chef who struggles with this mid-life crisis. Wu Chien-Lien(Ng Sin-Lin) also shines as the middle daughter, giving a performance worthy of some type of award. Not only is she a classic beauty, her thespian skills are so versatile, especially when comparing this role to her role in "God of Gambler's Returns", which is a comedic part.

Taking advantage of the father's occupation, Ang Lee utilizes the wonderful visuals of the cooking of many fine Chinese dishes, stimulating the eyes(and stomachs) of those enjoying the film. The entire film is a joy to watch, as I noticed myself smiling through many a scene.

If you have enjoyed any of Ang Lee's previous works, you will definitely enjoy "Eat Drink Man Woman". I cannot recommend this any is one of the most enjoyable films I have ever seen! [10/10]

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Kyashan
Date: 06/06/2002
Summary: Beauty movie

A good movie, not really moving but with a plot very beautiful. I liked this movie for good actors and bautiful plot story. Ang Lee is always a good director, anyone I seen best movies of same type. 6.5/10

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

Not really a HK movie, but it's a great film, and part of Ang Lee's "Father knows Best" trilogy, a series of films centered around Lung Sihung (Sir Te in CTHD) playing father roles. In this one, he plays a widowed Chef with three daughters who join him every weekend for elaborate meals. It's a quiet yet poignant movie that delves into the relationships and conflicts between these characters, as well the romantic affairs that develop for each of them in the course of the movie.

At the emotional centre of the movie is Lung Sihung's tense and ultimately loving relationship with his middle daughter, played with quiet passion by Wu Chien Lien. She shines throughout the film, and watching her face project subtle yet strong emotions is a pleasure to watch. Oh, and the food/cooking on display is memorable.

Do a Chinese Cooking movie night and watch this one together with God of Cookery and Chinese Feast.

Reviewed by: Hongkie
Date: 05/18/2001
Summary: Great movie making

I first saw this movie on Showtime, probably due to it deservingly being nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. The interaction between the father and everyone in the movie is great, which is probably why Ang Lee casts him in so many movies. Sylvia Cheng is also sweet in this movie, and have you ever seen Wu Chien-lien look better? =) Don't confuse her for Anita Yuen even though they both went through that perm phase. Also, the food is great to look at if you're even just a remote fan of Chinese cuisine.

Reviewed by: alienlord
Date: 04/30/2001

A chef and his three daughters come to terms with their busy lives. Probably the most boring film from director Ang Lee to date. Very talky, but a sly sense of humour helps. Good performances. ** and a half/4

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Conversationally paced drama about an aging chef (SihungLung) with three attractive daughters. Jia-Jen (Kuei-Mei Yang) is an ardent Christian on her way to becoming an old maid; lovely, capable Jia-Chien (Chien-Lien Wu) has a career in the airlines; and Jia-Ning (Yu-Wen Wang) works at a fast food restaurant. Their multi-course "torture Sundays" with Dad unexpectedly change when romance enters each of their lives. Sylvia Cheng makes an welcome guest appearance in an excellent film.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 8