Synopsis by Paul Brenner
Shirley Sun directed this charming martial arts movie based on Mark Salzman's book on his experiences teaching in China. Salzman plays a thinly disguised version of himself as Mark Franklin, a Western kung fu film-fanatic who travels to China to find spiritual enlightenment. Mark graduates from college as a Chinese culture major and gets a job teaching English at a small college in Hangzhou. His students are a group going by the name of "The Middle-Aged English Teachers." The Chinese government has informed them that they are to forget the Russian they have learned and to concentrate on learning English instead. Political undercurrents jeopardize his burgeoning romance with Dr. Ming (Vivian Wu) and a martial arts instructor, Teacher Pan Qingfu. The film also depicts the martial art of tai chi -- that Mark learns from tutor Hei (Jeanette Lin Tsui). Teacher Hei also instructs Mark on refining his Chinese manners. Mark eagerly accepts the teachings and learns to apply the Eastern ways to his Western sensibilities.
American [nationality], fish-out-of-water, spirituality, language-instruction, martial-arts, Chinese [nationality], forbidden-love, teacher