Pushing Hands

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3 1/2

Content: -1

Chinese director Ang Lee (THE WEDDING BANQUET) presents a touching look at the clash of eastern and western family values in his new movie, PUSHING HANDS. When Mr. Chu (Sihung Lung) comes from China to stay with his son and American wife, everyone concerned gets a lesson in culture shock. Martha (Deb Snyder), the American wife, cannot stand the strange old man who makes funny noises while he eats and disrupts her quiet life of writing. Mr. Chu cannot understand the brashness of American women or his feelings of uselessness and loneliness. The Chinese respect for elders does not translate into American culture. Caught in the middle of this confrontation is Mr. Chu's son, Alex (Bo Z. Wan), who tries to placate his wife while at the same time respecting his father. A few very funny scenes mixed with some poignant moments results in a touching story. The film convincingly portrays the struggle of the elderly, foreign or not, to find a place in our society. Sihung Lung is thoroughly likeable as Mr. Chu, which adds to the appeal of PUSHING HANDS, a Chinese film with English subtitles.

Mr. Chu is a master of the martial art of defense called Tai Chi. Along with his disciplined body, Mr. Chu wants to attain the spiritual state of "carefree nothingness," a kind of Nirvana. It is no surprise, therefore, when Mr. Chu becomes bitter about the meaningless of life, given his beliefs about nothingness. What is surprising is that a Chinese woman he meets may change his hopelessness because of her love for him. Carefree nothingness and other eastern-mystic concepts like the Yin and Yang and the healing touch are heavily discussed in this movie and seem to be condoned. Mr. Chu has a peaceful life while Martha, the American, lives a life of turmoil and stress. But Mr. Chu may find in the end that love is better than nothingness. A few regular profanities along with a few s-words damage the dialogue. When Alex destroys the kitchen in a fit of rage and then goes out to get drunk, his behavior is not condoned. Without the language and the slight eastern mystical bent, PUSHING HANDS could have been accepted with open arms.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Central Motion Picture

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Once - Mild

Obscene Language: Few (3) times (s-word)

Profanity: Several (7) times - Regular 3 (J, G), Exclamatory 4

Violence: Once - Moderate (man throws dishes, overturns table in a fit of anger)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Drunkenness once, but not condoned

Other: Mystical eastern concepts such as Yin-Yang and 'carefree nothingness' explained and seemingly condoned; references to Chinese man's power to heal by touch

Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.