Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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.

  • Second generation Chinese-American Ben Loy Wang grew up solely with his father Wah Gay Wang since the American exclusion laws prevented Ben's mother from emigrating to the US from China. It's 1949, and Wah Gay has settled into a life in New York City without his wife, who he has not seen in twenty years. The Wang's story is similar to other Chinese-American families. As such, New York City's Chinatown is populated with old Chinese men and their now grown sons, who have few opportunities to marry into their own culture. But times are now a little different. Ben, an ex-American GI, has just returned to New York City from his mother's home town in China with his Chinese bride, Mei Oi. The meeting of Ben and Mei Oi was arranged by Ben and Mei Oi's respective parents. Mei Oi's family is much the same as Ben's, with Mei Oi's father, who she has never met, living in New York City, while Mei Oi lived in China with her mother. By happenstance, Ben and Mei Oi seem to hit it off, and even fall in love by the time of the wedding. Although the expectations for Ben and Mei Oi are the same - live a prosperous life with many children - achieving that expectation weighs heavily on the two who have their own issues. Mei Oi, for who Ben is supposed to be her primary focus, is trying to adjust to American life without the support of family or friends. And the pressures of meeting his obligations of providing for the family and the overwhelming expectation of his father and his father's friends to produce an offspring sooner than later is causing Ben not to be able to perform sexually while in that environment. Despite their love for each other, the question becomes whether Ben and Mei Oi's marriage can survive these problems.



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