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Timothy Mo's novel, via Ian McEwan and Mike Newell, reaches the screen as something of a mess: so many narrative points fail to register, so many scenes are misjudged, that the viewer is left dangling, and the ending doesn't help. Chen (Dun, rotten) marries Lily (Chang) in Hong Kong, and the pair start a new life in London. He works as a waiter until he falls foul of the Soho Triad societies through a gambling debt. Rather than be roped in as a drug runner, Chen hightails it for the wastelands of the East End and opens a take-away. A family idyll ensues, with instant examples of culture shock for each generation. Meanwhile rival Chinatown gangs work through some old-style feuding (bloody stuff with cleavers and shotguns) but they haven't given up the search for Chen. Chinese ways are shown as being chipmunk cute, and the symbolism is thumpingly obvious. The biggest mistake is to raise expectations of Lily's lethal fists as the daughter of a martial arts expert, and then give her nothing to do when push comes to shove.

Release details

Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Mike Newell
Screenwriter: Ian McEwan
Cast: Sylvia Chang
Danny An-Ning Dun
Jodi Long
Speedy Choo
Han Tan
Soon-Teck Oh
William Chow
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