I Like to Watch (Instantly): Eat Drink Man Woman, The Road Home
Notable romantic Chinese titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
Directed by Ang Lee
Cast: Sihung Lung, Yu-Wen Wang, Jacqueline Wu Chien-Lien, Kuei-Mei Yang, Sylvia Chang, Winston Chao, Chao-jung Chen, Lester Chit-Man Chan, Yu Chen
Long before Brokeback Mountain, Chinese director Ang Lee was making films that explore traditional society's norms and depict how people break away from them. In Eat Drink Man Woman, Lee tells the story of a Taiwanese master chef and his three daughters, and how they transcend conventional Chinese thinking through their unusual love life’s. Using food as a metaphor, the movie excels in delivering a deeply philosophical message in a fairly simple manner. The script, with all its subtle humor and wit, develops the film's homey feel. The plot, although not the most elaborate element in the film, is unpredictable. The actors' standout performances catch the audience off-guard and can break the toughest of hearts. And the cameos of food, schools and streets give us a glimpse of the colorful Chinese culture. Overall, a film that would fill empty your stomach but fill your heart, and leave you feeling so damn good.
The Road Home (2000)
Directed by Yimou Zhang
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Honglei Sun, Hao Zheng, Yuelin Zhao, Bin Li, Guifa Chang, Wencheng Sung, Qi Liu, Zhongxi Zhang
From director Zhang Yimou (Not One Less) comes this sweet and solemn love story set in 1950s China, just as the country enters communist mode. When Luo Yusheng (Sun Honglei), the village's appointed teacher, arrives to the province one day, farm girl Zhao Di (Zhang Ziyi, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) immediately falls in love with him. Di attempts to get near Luo, and eventually succeeds, but when he is suspected to have been involved in political trouble, Luo is forced to return to the city, and Di becomes burdened by a long wait. The minimalist plot stands out sans fancy music and sets, probably because of its heart-piercing pain and purity. The film's use of smooth transition from black and white to color is both clever and stylish. The landscapes and hues shown are definitive of great cinematography. And I have to hand it down to the Chinese to deliver a super meaningful message in the simplest of ways. One of the most romantic films I've ever seen.