87 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2002
"The Joy Luck Club" is a ground-breaking film with universal themes that anyone can relate to regardless of age, gender or nationality. Truly epic in its scope and haunting vision, the movie is also deeply heartfelt and familial, enhancing its ability to speak to the audience in myriad, boundless ways. This is an intimate portrait of two generations of Asian women - the mothers who risked everything to create a better life for their daughters in the United States. At this juncture in American history, the movie resonates more than ever by reminding the viewer of our fore-mother's immigrant experience. In doing so, "The Joy Luck Club" serves as a vibrant contemporary document on freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
Ming-Na Wen (now known to millions as Ming-Na or Deb Chen on NBC's top rated drama "ER") is superb in the central role of June, greiving for her recently deceased mother with the 3 "aunties" who miantain her place at the mah-jon table. Their gatherings continue, with June's presence, and in the process form the backdrop from which these women's personal stories and life-journies are shared. Each auntie - and their now-adult Americanized daughters - explain their often-harrowing attempt to escape Communist China and their difficult transition to an American way of life in the U.S. Tears flow in both generations, not only for what has been lost, but also for what has been found here - a society with different values that challenges these women in unexpected but nearly universal ways. As both generations - and all eight women eventually - share their stories, the viewer literaly steps into each life, aware of where the characters end up, yet fully experiencing the challenges each of them faces. Set against the backdrop of June's trip to China to find her long-lost sisters (whom her mother was forced to leave behind in one of the film's most powerful sub-plots) "The JOy Luck Club" can be ANY family's story, regardless of how long they or their ancestors have lived in this country. In doing so, it succeeds at building bridges to the past, while staunchly looking ahead to the future. This is the sort of film that embraces real life and human themes, but also puts a face on what it means to be a zero-generation immigrant, or an exile in a land far from one's home and culture. Like the current spate of Latin and Soviet block immigrants and the last century's explosion of new Americans from Europe and Africa, we recognize through the characters the meaning and value of freedom, family and peace as well as the unimaginable challenges our elders faced in coming to this land of opportunity.
The cast of Asian-American actresses is uniformly superb, straddling a delicate balance for the viewer that requires they be both accessible AND remote at once. Although long seen as a "woman's movie" the film deserves to be widely experienced by all people, including men, who might otherwise reject the film as nothing more than handkerchief fluff. In fact, since few similar films exist with central male characters, "The Joy Luck Club" stands as a film I believe many men would embrace if they give it a chance. The film speaks for our fathers and brothers, not just our sisters, mothers or wives. This is grand, epic storytelling with a heart, beautifully directed by Wayne Wang and amazingly accessible in every way, due to its stellar cast. Had there been a Best Ensemble Oscar designed to honor the contribution of a group of actors at the top of their form, "The Joy Luck Club" cast would have surely been honored.
A magnificent film that fully captures what it means to be an American of any descent.
45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Having not seen it since it was in the theater, I forgot just how good "The Joy Luck Club" is. The story of each of the women is personal and engaging. Different lives and pasts leading to the same destination, each road is harsh and lined with perils. The film is a nice blend of period piece and modern drama.
I love the dialog ("She will know I am waiting like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose.") Visually, the film is almost too pretty. The women are all heart-breakingly beautiful, and each setting is dream-like in it's perfection. However, what could be a flaw is a strength, due largely to the quality of the actors. Each of the characters is strong and individual.
It is a very touching story of mothers and daughters, of hopes and fears. One of my favorite character actors, Victor Wong, even has a small part. A good film all around.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2003
This tearjerker adaptation based on the book by Amy Tan, is about four Chinese mothers and their American born daughters, and how the distinct cultural chasm in their upbringing, play into their daily lives.
The flashbacks into the young lives of each mother is masterful storytelling filled with rich imagery.
But it is the everyday struggles of modern life with their daughters and the conflicts between them that most will easily recognize. In this way the movie does not exclude the general viewer from identifying with their own personal relationships with their mother, spouse, or friends.
This is one of the best technically engineered movies I have ever seen. The way in which the lives of the characters are weaved together is nothing short of genuis, and the movie slides flawlessly from the present to the past and back to the present again
The story of each mother's youth is both heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time, and with their somewhat broken english offer up an amazing amount of simple yet profound statements and insights as they tell their story and try to impart upon their daughters wisdom gained through both suffering and sacrifice.
The modern day entanglements of each daughter and their often tense relationships with their moms, show us in the end that no matter who we are, or where we come from, the bond between a mother and daughter is often a complex enigma, full of conflicting emotions.
Throughout all this, the main underlying issue is the trip to China one of the daughters is about to embark on, to meet for the first time, two sisters previously abandoned in wartime China while at the same time paying a personal tribute to her own mother.
If I had to flaw the movie it would be the constant onslaught on one?s emotions right up until the very end.
Nevertheless, I still give it 5 stars although I am sure this movie will appeal more to women.
FAVORITES MOVIE QUOTES:
"..and on that day, second wife's hair began to turn white"
"All around me I see the signs. My daughter looks but does not see. This is a house that will break into pieces"
"But Lena had no spirit, ..because I had none to give her"
"I like being tragic mom... I learned it from you"
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 1999
I watched this movie with like 12 of my girlfriends. We're all chinese. After that we just couldn't stop talking about how the movie reminded us of things our own mothers would do. It was quite an experience. I know I'm biased in my views because I'm chinese. But it shouldn't take away anything from this well made and well acted movie. i've already watched this movie 10 times, 3 times in the theatre, 7 times on video. :-)
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2002
This is one of my favorite movies of all time because of several reasons: 1) It came out at a time when I desperately wanted to see Hollywood make an Asian-American film. 2) The American stories totally brought back my childhood. I almost felt like I was watching my life story. 3) It is a very well produced film - it just looks gorgeous. 4) It makes me cry every time I see it. I admit though, it's not a perfect movie. The acting was only okay. Rosalind Chao and Lauren Tom were very good, but Ming-Na Wen was only decent (she's gotten better through the years) and Tamalyn Tomita was kind of awful. The mothers were pretty good overall, with France Nguyen being the most memorable. The best acted scenes were the ones in China - or maybe it just seemed better because it was in Chinese. The script was also shamelessly cheesy at times - "You take worse quality crab because ... you have best quality heart!". Okay so that made me cry the first time, but that doesn't make it good writing. :) Still, despite it's flaws, this movie will always have a certain place in Hollywood history and it will continue to make me cry everytime I see it. As for the DVD version, it looks great but no Chinese subtitles?!?!?! That's just wrong.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This film reveals the complex mother-daughter relationships of four Chinese families whose roots from the past intertwine within the present causing conflicts and misunderstandings in their lives. Once the stories from the past are told and understood within the context of ancient Chinese culture and values, the mother-daughter bonds of love become even stronger and indestructable.
The stories of the four mothers are told from the cultural viewpoint of the past as flashbacks throughout the film. The viewer learns boys are more revered than girls, a daughter is given in an arranged marriage to a boy from a wealthy family and she is expected to be obedient to her husband and servile to her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law expects a grandchild and blames the daughter-in-law for failing to produce offspring, not recognizing or accepting her son's part in the problem. This particular story was cleverly resolved and had a happy ending due to the creative efforts of the daughter-in-law who used superstition, religion, and cultural values to get out of this unhappy marriage. In another life story, a young attractive daughter is raped by a wealthy businessman, her parents disown her not believing this story. They thought she allowed herself to be seduced due to his wealth. To sustain herself, she became his fourth wife, a concubine but also produced a son, an heir ...whom the first wife took ownership of, as if he were her son. The real mother was not allowed near her own child. Eventually, she proved herself a worthy daughter by a sacrificial ceremony done for her dying mother. Later she reunitd with her first child, a daughter, whom she raised within the businessman's household where the mother enacted an even more heartbreaking sacrifice ...
All the stories from the past are connected in some way with the problems the Chinese daughter's are experiencing in their adult lives. Through flashbacks in time, each daughter recalls her own past and how she felt pushed to do things for her mother, trying to please her, yet feeling unworthy. The film blends the stories of all the characters in a very creative and unique manner helping the viewer understand how the context of Chinese culture became the foundation of love on which all their lives are based.
June one of the American-raised Chinese daughters begins telling her story and the relationhship and conflicts with her mother who had recently passed away. The roots of the misunderstandings become more clear as the viewer learns about June's mother's life in China ... June learns the expectations her mother had for her, the hopes and dreams for her American daughter were part of an unresolved loss her mother never spoke about to June. June learns about a very painful experience in her mother's life which forced her to make decisions no mother should have to make ... However, due to a letter written by Auntie Lindo to June's relatives in China, June is reunited with her mother's secret past. This is the point where everyone who views the film will need a handkerchief or tissues... Erika Borsos [pepper flower
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2000
The Joy Luck Club is a wonderful movie about hope, coming to peace with past mistakes and regrets, and about family ties. This film touches at the heart of the most basic hope of parents--that their children will exceed them and have happier lives than they did. Excellent acting, direction and casting.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2006
"The Joy Luck Club," in my opinion is about as close to a perfect movie as I have ever seen. I would not hesitate to give it ten stars out of a possible ten. The mostly Chinese American cast is absolutely superb in their performances. My favorite character is June, the daughter of Suyuan. At the beginning of the movie, her friends and family have gathered together before she is about to go to China to meet two sisters she did not realize she had until after her mother died.
The movie centers around four Chinese women and their daughters. The experiences of the women in China, apparently between the two world wars, were often filled with sorrow and suffering. Their stories are told in Chinese with English subtitles. The experiences of the women in China as young girls and young women strongly influenced how each of them raised their daughters in the United States.
I have only a couple quibbles with this otherwise outstanding movie. One is that the women, as young females in China during the 1930's, are occasionally unusually bold in asserting themselves with men who oppress them. While, as a feminist and a very strong believer in completely equal rights based on gender, I generally applaud most of their actions, it does not seem historically realistic given the unfortunate pervasive second class citizenship of Chinese women during that time period.
"The Joy Luck" is a great film in all respects, the peformances by the actresses, the general storyline, the cinematography and the music. This is a movie I can watch over and again, enjoying very much on each occasion.
The ending to this movie when June meets her two sisters, apparently in Shanghai, is a great scene and very moving, one of the best endings to any movie I have ever seen.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2006
This movie is a beautiful story about four Chinese women and their four American-born daughters. The stories deal with identity, survival, sacrifice, love, respect, pride, and forgiveness. I cried at the end of this film because this movie stresses the importance of mother and daughter relationship. We carry the spirits of our fore mothers and it dictates what we do with our lives.
I have one negative comment to make and it involves the image of Asian men. After drying my tears from watching this movie, something struck me hard because I felt this movie made Asian men look bad. Yes, there were two positive Asian male characters in this movie. There was the stereotypical Asian father who played June's father (one of the daughters). Then there was Lena's second husband, but he came across as a token. It felt like the producers threw him in to keep the Asian community from getting upset, because there was no story development about him and Lena's life and their love, but you knew EXACTLY what happened with Waverly, Rose, and their white husbands.
The one character that really bugged me was Rose. Her husband cheated on her because she was too much of an Asian wife. She put her husband's needs before hers and as a result, he wanted to leave her, which she tries to stop. It is not until she learned the story of her grandmother that she understands her "worth". After learning her worth, she and her husband stays together. The movie is blaming HER and her culture for why her husband cheated, but blames Asian men when they do the same thing (am I the only one that sees this?).
I am a black female (how odd for a black woman to be defending Asian men) and I have studied the Asia culture, so I know this movie is bias. What strikes me as wrong is this movie is often compared to "The Color Purple". At least the black men (like Mister) are allowed to change to become better men and the women did not rely on men (of any race) for their happiness as this movie does. There is nothing wrong with finding happiness with a man (I am a traditionalist in that perspective), but Rose needs to dig deeper to find out why she is so needy. If you want a more balanced portrayal of Asian women and men, check out the movies from Asia. However, this movie is still a MUST SEE!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2000
This movie is truly one of the most extraordinary movies I've ever had the pleasure of watching. This movie deals with the love and struggle between the mothers and their daughters. One doesn't necessarily have to be an Asian to relate to this movie, anyone can relate to this movie. I can't believe the Academy Awards ditched this magnificent piece of art. This movie should have been nominated in every single category in the Oscars and won all of them.