Master Chu, a retired and aging Tai-Chi master, emigrates to New York to live with his son Alex, his American daughter-in-law Martha, and his grandson Jeremy. Thanks to communication difficulties, cultural conflicts, and differences in lifestyles, Master Chu and Martha do not get along with each oth...(Read more)
Master Chu, a retired and aging Tai-Chi master, emigrates to New York to live with his son Alex, his American daughter-in-law Martha, and his grandson Jeremy. Thanks to communication difficulties, cultural conflicts, and differences in lifestyles, Master Chu and Martha do not get along with each other. Master Chu leaves home for a restaurant in China Town, with the attempt to make a living washing dishes. Nonetheless, the boss complains about Chu’s awkwardness and is about to fire him. Feeling humiliated, Chu exerts his Tai-Chi to keep off whoever comes to cast him out….
This is Ang Lee’s first feature length film and the first part of his Father Trilogy, which includes two later films, The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994). Though it was his cinematic debut, the film demonstrated dexterity and sensitivity, and was a pleasant surprise to Taiwan audiences.
The opening sequence is a seven-minute scene without dialogue, which implies the lack of communication between Master Chu and Martha. Lee employs parallel cutting to juxtapose their daily activities in the morning. This opening scene sets up the tone of this film and also becomes a recurrent leitmotif of his ensuing works: conflict and reconciliation between cultures and between tradition and modernity; the Chinese Diaspora; outsiders integrated into a community and people exiled from their community; Confucian repression and lyric release in melodrama. In the department of cinematic technique, the opening scene uses neat cutting and framing to build a basic structure of dual opposition that draws in the audience. It reflects Ang Lee’s familiarity with the classic cinematic language of Hollywood. The plot of the film follows the classical diagram, too; that is, conflict, climax, and resolution. The resolution lies right in the metaphor of “pushing hands”: in order to settle the conflict, one has to learn to balance. This film offers a preview of Ang Lee’s film career: films adapted from fiction; the tension between images and words; Asian director making an American film; dealing with the conventions of diverse genres, such as family melodrama, sci-fi, western, kung-fu, and fantasy; making good use of limited budget to its full. In short, it’s Ang Lee’s “pushing hands” that makes him the master of many genres.
DVD source：Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C.
|Actors：||LUNG Sihung, WANG Lai, WANG Bo. Z., Deb SNYDER|
|Screenplay：||LEE Ang, James SCHAMUS|
|Editor：||LEE Ang, Tim SQUYRES|
|Excluded for public screenings：||Licensed to all regions except: Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, Europe, North America, Mexico|
|Royalty period：||2014-May 31, 2020|
This license of non-profit screenings has expired on May 31, 2020.
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1991 Golden Horse Awards, Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actress Awards, Special Jury Prize
1992 Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Best Film Award
1992 London Film Festival