7.0/10
1,886
9 user 7 critic

American Dreams in China (2013)

Zhong Guo he huo ren (original title)
The story of three friends who build a successful English language school in China called "New Dream". This school helps the dreams of Chinese teenagers come true. Before they stood proudly... See full summary »

Director:

Peter Ho-Sun Chan (as Peter Chan)
Reviews
31 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A boss of a toy corporation, Chenggong Li, tries to head back to Chan Sar to celebrate the Chinese New Year with his family. However, plans don't go as smoothly after he crosses paths with a stranger, Geng Niu.

Director: Wai Man Yip
Stars: Baoqiang Wang, Zheng Xu, Man Li
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

On a wild road trip, three men find inner peace in the city that never sleeps.

Director: Zheng Xu
Stars: Zheng Xu, Baoqiang Wang, Bo Huang
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A white-collar worker goes through a bittersweet life after she broke up with her ex-boyfriend, and eventually gets her true love.

Director: Hua-Tao Teng
Stars: Zhang Wen, Baihe Bai, Jingfei Guo
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

After attending a wedding of his high school crush Qiuya, Xia Luo (Shen Teng) gets drunk embarrassing himself and angers his wife Ma Dongmei (Ma Li).

Directors: Da-Mo Peng, Fei Yan
Stars: Lun Ai, Yuan Chang, Li-Chun Lee
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Qin Fen, a funny, honest, single inventor, met a girl called Smiley, who was in agony of her boyfriend's betrayal. They traveled to Hokkaido, tried to help Smiley cure her pain in heart, ... See full summary »

Director: Xiaogang Feng
Stars: You Ge, Qi Shu, Wei Fan
The Continent (2014)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Three men living in the Eastern most island of China go on a road trip to the Western most end of the country, and facing crises of love, friendship, and faith on their journey to the West.

Director: Han Han
Stars: Feng Shao Feng, Bo-lin Chen, Wallace Chung
Crazy Stone (2006)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Three thieves try to steal a valuable jade that is tightly guarded by a security chief. But the security guards are not the only obstacle these thieves are facing. An extremely unlucky ... See full summary »

Director: Hao Ning
Stars: Tao Guo, Teddy Lin, Hua Liu
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Recently cuckolded and reeling from a messy divorce, a hapless former singer hits the road and the bar with his all-too-helpful best bud.

Director: Hao Ning
Stars: Bo Huang, Zheng Xu, Quan Yuan
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A con-team couple (Andy Lau & Rene Liu) head west after taking a city businessman for his BMW. But an encounter with a naive young carpenter travelling home with his life savings challenges their fate as thieves.

Director: Xiaogang Feng
Stars: Andy Lau, Rene Liu, Baoqiang Wang
The Dead End (2015)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

It is a story about the redemption of three man, a cab driver who never takes credit for helping others, a auxiliary policeman who never asks for promotion even when he risks his life to ... See full summary »

Director: Baoping Cao
Stars: Yihong Duan, Chao Deng, Tao Guo
No Man's Land (2013)
Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young lawyer from the city travels to the Gobi desert where he embarks on a series of adventures and challenges.

Director: Hao Ning
Stars: Zheng Xu, Duobujie, Nan Yu
Mr. Donkey (2016)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In an effort to draw more funding from the government, faculty members of a rural Chinese school try to pass off an uneducated laborer as a qualified teacher.

Directors: Lu Liu, Shen Zhou
Stars: Suxi Ren, Li Da, Shuailiang Liu
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Xiaoming Huang ... Cheng Dongqing
Dawei Tong ... Wang Yang
Chao Deng ... Meng Xiaojun
Juan Du Juan Du ... Su Mei
Daniel Martin Berkey ... Board Executive
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Georg Anton ... U.S. Consular Officer
Tina Collins ... Girlfriend (voice)
Allen Enlow ... Dream Lawyer
Jin Jin ... Yenching University student
Haowen Lei Haowen Lei ... Meng Xiaojun, aged 6
Bettina Skye ... Waitress
Meme Tian
Lei Tong Lei Tong ... Xu Wen
William Yuekun Wu William Yuekun Wu ... Zhang Xi
Zimu Zhang ... Liang Qin, aged 6
Edit

Storyline

The story of three friends who build a successful English language school in China called "New Dream". This school helps the dreams of Chinese teenagers come true. Before they stood proudly in the American stock market, many stories happened with them. Written by Ake

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

China

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

17 May 2013 (China) See more »

Also Known As:

American Dreams in China See more »

Filming Locations:

Beijing, China See more »

Edit

Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$87,097,067
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in Running Man: Mi mi he huo ren (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Tailored for a Mainland Chinese audience, Peter Chan's latest chronicles the country's ambivalent feelings with the West in engaging but never really compelling fashion
15 September 2013 | by moviexclusiveSee all my reviews

Never has there quite been a film which has so pointedly addressed China's complex love affair with the West as Peter Chan's latest work 'American Dreams in China', a presciently timed movie given the country's rising power on the international stage. Tapping into the contemporary Zeitgeist of the Chinese pursuit of the American dream, it sees Chan revisiting his familiar themes of love and friendship as he charts the ups and downs of three college friends over three decades who build a business empire on an English-language school.

Beginning with the end, Chan introduces us to his protagonists - Cheng Dongqing (Huang Xiaoming), Meng Xiaojun (Deng Chao) and Wang Yang (Tong Dawei) - as they are called to New York to answer allegations by the United States' Educational Testing System (ETS) that they had been using ETS material within their school curriculum without permission. Because this isn't a whodunit, there isn't any doubt that the allegations are indeed true; what remains to be seen however is how they got from chasing the American dream to selling others the pathway to make that dream a reality.

That story takes us back to their university days in the early 1980s during the era of the Economic Reform. Whereas Dongqing is a quiet and bookish country boy, his mates couldn't be more different - Xiaojun, the de facto leader of the trio, is ambitious and self-confident, while Wang Yang is carefree and hedonistic. Yet all three are united in a common desire of going to America, a land perceived to be one of equal opportunities that rewards the hardworking; nonetheless, they will soon discover that passion alone ain't enough - even after several rounds of interviews, only Xiaojun gets the student visa each one of them wants, leaving Dongqing and Wang Yang behind as he alone gets to live out their collective dreams.

Herein is where irony sets in. Still dejected from not being able to go to the United States, Dongqing instead takes up a job as an English teacher - but a not so good one at that at least at the start. With Wang Yang's financial help though, he taps on his own thirst for making that journey to America to become a stirring motivator for countless others like him, thereby turning a hole-in-the-wall teaching establishment named New Dream into a profit-making enterprise. On the other hand, Xiaojun isn't having such a good time in America, his seemingly bright and perfect future crashing down when he is sacked from his laboratory job and forced to work as a waiter at a restaurant under a bigoted Caucasian boss.

All that is packed into the first hour of the film, which uses frequent monologues and voiceovers to provide the narrative continuity necessary for such a sprawling tale. Yet even though the characters are defined well enough, their joys, disappointments and frustrations rarely stick, primarily because Zhou Zhiyong and Zhang Ji's screenplay (based upon Aubrey Lam's draft) doesn't give Chan much breathing space in between the individual ups and downs to dwell on quieter character moments. And so, though we get Chan's intention of painting a cautionary tale on ambition, idealism and reality, it ultimately rings a little too hollow, coming off more superficial than poignant.

Thankfully, the movie finds a surer dramatic footing in its second half as Xiaojun heads back to China to join his buddies to bring New Dream to greater heights. Illustrating how business interests can sometimes ruin the firmest of friendships, Chan patiently observes Dongqing and Xiaojun's conflicting goals for the company, exemplified particularly in the latter's insistence of - and the former's resistance against - an IPO launch on the New York Stock Exchange. At its most effective, Chan's story is a coming-of-age tale of three friends whose bond is tested by power, money and ambition - though it does take a longer time than it could have to reward audiences with an emotional payoff.

It is also for this reason that despite Chan's attempt to emulate the success of his 'Comrades, Almost A Love Story' - right down to framing the tale against memorable events in China's history such as the first KFC in 1992 and the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 - this supposed true story of the Beijing New Oriental School isn't quite as accomplished. There's also no denying the political subtext of the film, expressed in no unclear terms by Dongqing in a didactic speech that in a nutshell demands that the West pay more respect to China and its people - in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, we might have excused it as ineptitude; but in Chan's case, one can only conclude the heavy- handedness comes from a deliberate attempt to pander to Mainland audiences.

Still, to give credit where that's due, Chan does get career-best performances from his Mainland stars. Made to downplay his good looks, Huang Xiaoming puts aside his swagger and is nicely understated as the shy Dongqing who comes into his own as a firm and resolute personality along the course of the film. Deng Chao projects just the right amount of poise without becoming supercilious, and surprisingly emerges as the most empathetic of the lot especially as his self-confidence takes a beating. Though he gets slightly less attention than Huang and Deng, Tong Dawei is also extremely likable as the most good-natured of the three.

In them and their characters is probably where Chan also sees himself. It's no secret that Chan now has his eyes firmly on the China market, but Chan's strengths as a filmmaker still triumph over his newfound commercial sensibilities, and even if this latest isn't as compelling as it could have been, it is at least never less than engaging.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 9 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed