A 1994 romantic drama by Ang Lee. Tao Chu, the semi-retired Master Chef of a large restaurant in Taipei, is a melancholic widower who lives in a large house with his three unmarried daughters: Jia-Jen, a heartbroken chemistry teacher; Jia-Chien, a fast-rising airline executive; and Jia-Ning, a teen student who works in a fast food restaurant. Though they live together, the family is emotionally isolated, and their last remaining common ground is an elaborate dinner every Sunday night. Tensions mount as the daughters try to seek personal fulfillment while balancing the issues arising from their father's advancing age.
Nominated for the 1995 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Remade with Hispanic characters as Tortilla Soup.
This film provides examples of the following tropes
- Babies Ever After: At the end of the movie, Jin-Rong is shown to be pregnant with Chu's future (fourth) daughter and Jia-Ning has given birth to his first grandchild.
- The Baby Trap: Jia-Ning, though it was unintentional.
- Died Standing Up: Old Wen gets winded for a moment, sits down... and dies.
- Fainting: Madam Liang has a high-profile Emotional Faint after Chu announces he and Jin-Rong plan to marry.
- Food Porn: Every scene with Tao Chu near a kitchen is a spectacle, and Jia-Chien's own cooking is nothing to shrug off, either.
- Friends with Benefits: Jia-Chien and her ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend actually wants to continue this arrangement after telling Jia-Chien that he's getting married.
- Honorary Uncle: "Old Wen", Chu's Supreme Chef friend, is an Honorary Uncle to his daughters. Chu himself is an Honorary Grandfather to his neighbor's girl, Shan-Shan.
- I Just Want to Be Loved
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Though not explicitly stated, it's implied that Jia-Ning gets pregnant after sleeping with Guo Lun just once.
- Loud of War: After Jia-Jen gets completely frustrated by her neighbor's loud karaoke sessions, she drags two large speakers from the living room, point them towards the neighbors, and begins playing classical music at full blast.
- Married to the Job: The family thinks Jia-Chien is like this. In reality, she has a Friends with Benefits relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and later considers having an affair with a co-worker.
- Match Cut: A rather surprising one from Jia-Chien moaning during sex to her father blowing into the gullet of a fish that he's preparing for dinner.
- Mistaken for Dying: Jia-Chien thinks her father has heart problems when she sees him visiting a doctor at the hospital's cardiac department. It turns out he was getting a checkup to affirm his good health, as part of his plan to marry Jin-Rong.
- Multigenerational Household
- My Beloved Smother: Patriarchal Version. All of Chu's daughters, while they love him very much, also feel at least a little stifled. While he never objects and gives them as much freedom as they want, his kindliness makes it hard to move out.
- My Own Private "I Do": Jia-Jen and the volleyball coach get married almost immediately after she realizes her feelings for him are genuine. She doesn't tell the family until later.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Madam Liang, the mother of neighbor Jin-Rong, spends almost all of her screen time berating her daughters as burdensome and insulting the men they married. She is visibly elated when her daughter in America gets divorced, and vows to mount the divorce papers over the toilet.
- Parent with New Paramour: Played straight when Chu's daughters believe he plans to propose to Madam Liang, the Obnoxious Mother-In-Law, and fret accordingly. Subverted when Chu announces his marriage to Liang's daughter Jin-Rong instead.
- Playing Hard to Get: Jia-Ning's friend takes tangible glee in tormenting her boyfriend Guo Lun with this. It backfires when Jia-Ning misunderstood her intentions and starts dating Guo Lun herself.
- Prank Date: Jia-Jen gets an emotional breakdown after she realizes the Secret Admirer love letters she's been getting were from her vengeful students.
- R-Rated Opening: An early scene shows Jia-Chien frolicking in bed with her ex-boyfriend. There's no nudity, but it's enough to twig the concerned parents in the audience.
- Spiritual Successor: It's the third entry in Lee's Father Knows Best trilogy of films that deal with conflicts between an older and more traditional generation and their children as they confront a world of change, oftentime with a Chinese-American culture clash element. Actor Sihung Lung plays an elderly father in all three films, and his character in both this and Pushing Hands is an aging master (in this of cooking and in Hands of tai chi) named Chu.
- Supreme Chef: Tao Chu, naturally. His school lunches for Shan-Shan soon cause crowds of students to mob her with food requests.
- Title Drop: See the page quote.