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Eat a Bowl of Tea

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Eat a Bowl of Tea + Eat A Bowl Of Tea: A novel of New York's Chinatown
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Product Details

  • Actors: Cora Miao, Russell Wong, Victor Wong, Siu-Ming Lau, Eric Tsang
  • Directors: Wayne Wang
  • Writers: Judith Rascoe, Louis Chu
  • Producers: John Chan, Lindsay Law, Patricia Chong, Tom Sternberg
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2003
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008YLVC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,813 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Eat a Bowl of Tea" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ben's wife wants some attention. Ben's boss wants some dedication. Ben's father wants some grandchildren. And Ben just wants a minute to sort it all out in Wayne Wang's gentle comedy, Eat a bowl of tea. In New York's Chinatown of the late 1940s, young Ben Loy (Russell Wong), fresh out of the service, has his whole life spread out before him - including a job, an apartment and a marriage arranged by his father (Victor Wong) to the beautiful Mei Oi (Cora Miao). But as eager as the couple is to see what America has to offer them, that's how eager the whole of Chinatown seems to see some first-generation U.S. offspring. And when Ben's celebrated young marriage threatens to crumble in the face of this pressure, it's up to him to separate his dreams from his father's, and to find a future for himself and his wife in their new adopted homeland. Directed by Wayne Wang (Maid in Manhattan, The Joy Luck Club), Eat a bowl of tea is a charming, warm-hearted film based on the classic underground nov


Director Wayne Wang is in his appealingly low-key groove with this wry comedy-drama, a precursor to his later success with The Joy Luck Club. It's set in the aftermath of World War II, when the restrictive U.S. immigration laws had finally been relaxed. WWII vet Russell Wong is a young Chinese-American hepcat, strong-armed by his dad (the wonderfully gnarled character actor Victor Wong) into an arranged marriage with a Chinese girl (Cora Miao). The trip to China, and the atmosphere of New York's Chinatown, are neatly mounted. The film's central joke, and metaphor, is the bridegroom's impotence after marriage; he's cowed by the expectations of his traditional culture, which don't necessarily match his own ideas. In its quiet way, Eat a Bowl of Tea examines the larger issues of ethnic identity while poking affectionate fun at its floundering characters--a distinctly modern attitude for a 1940s story. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

I read the book for comparison, and I like the film better.
Honey kitty
In this movie, a father takes revenge on the man cuckolding his son -- not for the sake of his son but because his own name is being debased.
Steven Daedalus
Movies should end with you wanting more; this movie left me wanting to know why I didn't pick a different movie to watch.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on February 25, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Although it never deadens itself with too much period detail, you can almost touch the 1940s atmosphere in Wayne Wang's film, the dark rooms and grey streets occasionally filtered by cold sunlight. 'Eat A Bowl Of Tea' recreates a crucial moment in Chinese-American history - the relaxing of inequitable immigration laws that had prevented Chinamen bringing their women into the country, and the subsequent influx of young female life into the sterile world of old men - with little historical fanfare, and maximum attention to human experience. Wah Gay is a successful club owner who hasn't seen the wife he left behind in 20 years, and who despairs at ever seeing his frivolous son, who served in the US Army during the war (the mass of Chinese who had done so causing the laws to be repealed) ever settling down and continuing his line. He sends him back home to marry a friend's daughter, bring her back, take a good job and start a family. All these pressures, unfortunately, make the young man impotent, and his frustrated wife is forced to take a lover.
As the film starts, with its wisecracking Greek chorus, its warm 40s look and its 40s jazz standards on the soundtrack, you might almost be watching a Chinese Nora Ephron film. The struggles of individuals against the community begins to take a starker turn as the film progresses, and characters become alienated from each other. The film is full of images and situations in which Chinese and American cultures confront one another, sometimes to harmonious effect, but just as often clashing.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on October 18, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This film is important and needed for three reasons. One, you get to see supa-fine Russell Wong. Two, rarely do you see a movie with so many Asian-American men. Three, this movie illustrates that Asians did live in the US before 1965's liberalization of immigration laws. Still, in this movie, when Russell is a gigolo for a white female client, he's sexually active. However, when he has a cute Chinese wife, he's impotent. This seems like some disturbing white-worshipping to me. It's kinda anti-Asian woman too. Haven't we seen and heard enough of historical stereotypes of Asian men as not true masculines?! Then, the end is too fast and illogical. This movie had so much potential that it did not meet.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By arbekeal on June 11, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am very disappointed. I purchased this DVD assuming that it is the same version as the one I saw many years ago on TV, and that original movie highly reflect what my grandfather told me what life was like for him back then. Some of scenes were changed. The biggest change is the scenes when Russell Wong was arrested by the police. The original version I saw didn't have the Russell's father cutting off the ear of the adulterer and the police come to arrest Russell for the crime. In the original movie, the problem is handled by the Wang Family Association, where a couple of tough looking guys spoke quietly to the adulterer and ask him to leave town and never come back. The Chinese Americans back then normally don't report their problems to the police, because the police don't care. That goes with the rest of the American society. Another example is the banks. Back then, Chinese Americans don't go to the bank to borrow money. They go to their Family Association or the Chinese American Association instead.

There are other scenes that have been changed, all to down play the injustice and inequality that the white Americans assert to the non-white minority, and in this movie the Chinese Americans. After watching this DVD, I throwed it away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven Daedalus on June 18, 2012
Format: DVD
The title is a little silly -- "Eat A Bowl of Tea". It should be a Doris Day Comedy. But the film is rather better than its title.

A young man, Wong, goes back to Hong Kong and brings back a bride, Miao. It's America in the post-war years. Both Wong and Miao live in the ethnic community of Chinatown just south of Canal Street in New York. They're surrounded by friends and family members, including their fathers. The marriage becomes rocky when Wong is unable to perform his husbandly duties, as a line of dialog has it in the similarly structured "The Family Way." Wong's doctor prescribes a vacation and Wong's impotence is overcome -- but only temporarily. When they return to New York, so does Wong's problem.

Miao, a beautiful young woman, is easily seduced by a smooth-talking cad. (The cast is all Chinese but speak mostly English.) A pregnancy results and Wong has to check the dates of their vacation to make certain that he is the father. He has no idea Miao is getting wood elsewhere.

There are several comic scenes but it all leads to violence, the ultimate repair of the marriage and the departure of the couple for San Francisco, and a slight but palpable collapse in the community itself.

One of the features I appreciate most about the film is its informational content. The acting sometimes seems amateurish but the ethos is convincingly captured. See how a fortune-cookie machine is operated. There's a good deal of talk about people gossiping and the victims losing face. Well -- it's not a stereotype. In Chinatown, a shop never "goes out of business." It is simply "closed for repairs" because no one wants to lose face by failing in a business.
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