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Gua Sha Treatment (2001)
"Gua Sha" (original title)

 -  May 2001 (France)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 208 users  
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Title: Gua Sha Treatment (2001)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Hollis Huston ...
John Quinlan
...
Datong Xu
Tamara Tungate ...
Margaret
Wenli Jiang ...
Jian Ning
...
Mary (Reporter)
Xu Zhu ...
Father
...
Benton Davis
Cat Cacciatore ...
Social Worker
Anthony Mullin ...
Emcee of Awards Ceremony
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Jenny
Susan L. Fry ...
Party Guest / Passenger waiting for plane
Mike Ketcher ...
Starsky
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Prostitute
Dave Schuetz ...
Awards Guest
Shawn Tucker ...
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May 2001 (France)  »

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Gua Sha Treatment  »

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User Reviews

Cultural Differences Threaten to Break Up a Chinese Family
12 September 2007 | by (China) – See all my reviews

Chinese immigrants struggle to hold onto their American dream after the husband's father (Xu Zhu) comes for a visit from mainland China and gives a simple Chinese Medicine therapy called Gua Sha to his grandson.

Da Tong (Tony Leung Ka Fai) is the father who is trying to integrate his Chinese cultural beliefs into his daily American reality, especially when dealing with his boss (Hollis Huston) and best friend, who is too quick to believe the worst about Da Tong's treatment of his son, Dennis. Da Tong's failures show his confusion about the differences between his original Chinese culture and his new American home. Even within his family there is conflict because Grandfather can't speak English and is excluded from many conversations because Mother (Wenli Jiang) wants only English spoken in her home for the benefit of her American born son. Da Tong and his wife are very well educated and understand that their child's best chances for success in America, and for him not to experience the same troubles they've had during the past 8 years, are to speak without an accent. They even go so far as to insist the boy use a fork and knife instead of chopsticks, even when it's obvious they are still eating Chinese style food, served in the normal way: communal dishes for the food and smaller, individual rice bowls for each person. Mother seems a bit inflexible in her insistence on being as American as possible, while Da Tong's cultural leanings are just as strongly Chinese, although not by conscious choice.

Da Tong's love for his son is tested severely when Da Tong tries to balance it against respect for his boss. When Da Tong's son hits his boss' son, Da Tong insists on an apology that seems unnecessary and makes Da Tong look stubborn and uncaring. Da Tong gives his boy a light rap on the head when he refuses to apologize and the boy cries to his mother that the reason he hit his playmate was that the other boy called Da Tong stupid, one of many examples of doing the wrong thing to protect your family.

The conflict arising from doing the wrong thing out of love or respect for one's family or closest friends continues throughout the movie, and every way Da Tong turns, he finds failure and encounters both obvious and subtle forms of anti-Chinese racism. Even Chinese folklore about the Monkey King, Sun Wu Kong, that Da Tong incorporates into a video game he designed is used to provoke his pride when he's vulnerable and fearing for the loss of his son. Da Tong is misunderstood by everyone, family, friend, and foe, even though he has only the best intentions, and he carries the responsibility quite heavily, making one wrong turn after another.

Gua Sha (The Treatment) shows how a person's cultural beliefs are so deeply set within oneself that it is usually impossible to examine why you do most anything, from how you dress and talk to whom you love and respect and how you show it. The invisible nature of one's cultural beliefs also makes it difficult to impossible to explain yourself to others when questioned. Da Tong experiences an excruciatingly painful and difficult struggle while trying to protect his son, an ordeal that forces him to examine the validity of some of the most vital things he thought he knew about his identity, his Chinese culture, and the new American world he'd chosen as his home.

The movie showed me how normal it is for people to look for ways that their culture is superior to others' and how the misunderstandings arising from different cultural perspectives can seem very large, but can be nullified with simple, 2-sided explanations when people are willing to listen.

It appears this film is not readily available in the USA, but it's the best I've seen at highlighting the differences between American and Chinese culture. Parts of the movie's dialog are only in Chinese and I've yet to find a DVD with English subtitles, although it's easy to get the gist of what's going on during those short passages. The credits are a combination of Chinese and English, holding true to the integration of both worlds. I've noticed some important roles are not credited here on IMDb, such as Judge Horowitz, who was played by Alexander Barton.


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