A Neo-Realist Flushing
Yongsoo Park | Harlem, USA | 11/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Some of the other reviews compare COMBINATION PLATTER to MARTY. I don't know where this comparison began, but it's not apt. Although both films have to do with ethnic characters, MARTY, by Paddy Chayefsky is more character-driven, while COMBINATION PLATTER, though it follows a single protagonist, works more like an ensemble piece, following the adventures and misadventures of the waiters, cooks, dishwashers, hostess, and owner of a familiar mid-scale Chinese restaurant that caters to a predominently white clientele.
That said, what is strongest about the film is when the filmmaker and camera take us out of the restaurant and into the streets. Anyone who is familiar with Queens will instantly recognize Queens Center, Main Street, and the coup de grace, the old DRAKE movie theater, which was on Woodhaven Blvd, before it went out of business. These settings in and of themselves don't make for a movie, but they lend the film an authenticity of place.
The lead actor is also very convincing and with his muted performance conveys the angst of an immigrant seeking his place in the U.S.
Although the major dramatic question of will this illegal immigrant find a way to stay legally in the U.S. isn't answered at the film's end--the question is actually just dropped and forgotten 2/3 of the way in, the film does a good job of sustaining viewer's interest by picking up various strands of the ensemble drama. Will the hostess learn Chinese? Will the waiter with the gambling problem get caught? etc.
The film works and is an impressive first feature. The question in my mind is, whatever to the director Tony Chan? Has he done other films since? Anyone know?????
Anil Philip | Olathe, KS. USA | 10/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am amazed at the many reviewers who dont like it... then it strikes me,
that is precisely what the movie is about!
A Chinese illegal immigrant (Robert) who is seriously worried about survival and staying on in America - like all immigrants including legal ones like myself.
An American woman (Claire) for whom life is about self-fulfillment including a casual romance.
When these two worlds meet, grapple and try to come to terms, it comes apart.
The chinese man works as a waiter in a restaurant and there are true vignettes of chinese restaurant life.
Unwittingly perhaps, the director let on that many Chinese are not very truthful or in their culture it is not valued highly. When Robert (our hero) decides to come clean and honestly tell Claire what he wants, she doesnt recognize it because of the white lies he has told before.
Unfortunately the reviewers below are unable to appreciate the subtleness and some sadness - much like real life. They are like Claire in the movie.
Great movie - could replace Chinese with Indian, Hispanic etc and would in many places still be accurate.
A comedy about life on the other side of America
Clayton Ashley | Hollywood, USA | 10/26/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This well done film won at Sundance in 1993. If you were to update the film "Marty" and it took place in a chinese resturant, that's what you would get here, a well made film. A great rental, if you can find it."