Pushing Hands (1991)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Domestic Comedy  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Taiwan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Hastings

Ang Lee's debut feature exhibits many of the traits that would later become calling cards: the clash of cultures at play in everyday American society; the stifling-yet-comforting influence of family and home; the reticence to alter old world ways even in a new environment. Unfortunately, Lee -- working here on an ultra-low budget with an inexperienced cast -- hadn't yet come into his own as a naturalistic observer of human drama, and as a result, much of Pushing Hands comes off like a preachy after-school special. Best among the cast is Sihung Lung, whom Lee would feature in nearly all of his subsequent films; he's so good that he makes the performers who play his staid suburban son and daughter-in-law (Bo Z. Wang and Deb Snyder, respectively) seem like they wandered in from a cut-rate public access soap opera. Informally part of Lee's "Father Knows Best" trilogy, Pushing Hands received a release only after the success of The Wedding Banquet.