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Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989)

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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 496 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 8 critic

A study in culture bridging, including ... a new US-born husband, trying to work within the traditional ways, a new China-born wife, eager to join the "dream" of America, two family-minded ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989)

Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cora Miao ...
Mei Oi
Ben Loy
Wah Gay
Siu-Ming Lau ...
Lee Gong
Ah Song (as Eric Tsiang Chi Wai)
Sau Kei Lee ...
Bok Fat (as Lee Sau Kee)
Yuen Fat Fai ...
Letter Writer
Fan Hui ...
Ben Loy's Mother (as Hui Fun)
Lan Law ...
Aunt Gim
Yuen Yee Ng ...
Third Sister
Wu Ming Yu ...
Mei Oi's Mother
Ta Lei ...
Movie Translator (as Lui Tat)
Wai Wong ...
Chuck Ting
Philip Chan ...
Henry Wang
Yu-yung Teng ...
Fat Man (as Tang Shun Nin)


A study in culture bridging, including ... a new US-born husband, trying to work within the traditional ways, a new China-born wife, eager to join the "dream" of America, two family-minded fathers, lots of gender-related social bifurcations. Written by LoneStarNot <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The simple recipe for sexual survival. See more »


Drama | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »





Release Date:

10 January 1990 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Eat a Bowl of Tea  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$231,423 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edited from The Lady from Shanghai (1947) See more »

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User Reviews

Enjoyable - But Fails to Realise its Potential
1 April 2010 | by ( – See all my reviews

Focusing on a little-known aspect of Chinese-American history – that Chinese men who had travelled to the States to make their fortune were prevented by federal law from marrying a native girl and from bringing their sweethearts over from China – director Wayne Wang crafts a pleasant story without really exploring the theme's full potential.

Asian heartthrob Russell Wong plays Ben Loy, a Chinese-American former serviceman in post-WW2 New York, who is allowed to marry a girl from the homeland following a relaxation of the laws due to the assistance given to America by China during the conflict. Fixed up by his wily old father (Victor Wong) with the daughter of a friend, Ben travels back to China and instantly (and fortuitously) falls in love with Mei Oi (Cora Miao, Wayne Wang's wife). Bringing her back to America, however, triggers a series of events that threatens both their marriage, and their entire family's standing in the Chinese-American community.

This is one of those films that, in the first act, looks as if it is going to turn out to be something special. But, sadly, things begin to unravel shortly after the young couple return to the States, and what could have been an insightful exploration into a culture and way of life that is alien to most of us becomes little more than a light rom-com. Ben, under pressure from both a new job that is more challenging than he expected and from a tight-knit community keen to welcome the arrival of the first child born to native parents, finds himself unable to perform in the bedroom. Mei Oi's eventual response to this is as unbelievable as it is cruel, and shoehorns a melodramatic plot that really has no place in a film that seemed to be setting itself up as a gently observed character piece. To add insult to injury, the manner in which it is resolved is equally unrealistic; so many questions are left unanswered, and the conclusion is so badly rushed that it devalues much of the good work that has gone before.

There is no doubt that Wang is an extremely talented director; he composes some wonderfully evocative frames and has a keen eye when it comes to the use of colour and shadow, but his control of narrative structure – in this film at least – is poor, leaving a talented cast to flounder in the second act, and seemingly lose interest midway through the third. Of course, Wang can only do what he can with the story handed to him, and writer Judith Rascoe must shoulder her share of the blame: by asking us to care for a couple about whom we are told so little – both as a couple and as individuals – and who seem to have little direction outside of complying with the wishes of their parent's, she leaves herself open to charges of naivety at best and, at worst, literary laziness.

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