Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pushing Hands

Pushing hands is the name of a film by Ang Lee. It is also a main exercise in the practice of internal martial arts. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the Answer Pages article on the movie, Pushing Hands. Below is an excerpt.

Pushing Hands (Chinese: 推手; pinyin: Tuī Shǒu) is a film directed by Ang Lee. Released in 1992, it was his first feature film. It was one of the first of Lee's films to feature Sihung Lung in a major role.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The story is about an elderly Chinese T'ai Chi Ch'uan teacher and grandfather (played by Sihung Lung) who emigrates from China to live with his son, his American daughter-in-law and his grandson in a New York City suburb. The grandfather is increasingly distanced from the family as he is a "fish out of water" in Western culture and he does not care to participate in the materialistic life style prevalent in the West. The film shows the contrast between traditional Chinese ideas of Confucian relationships within a family and the much more informal Western emphasis on the individual. The friction in the family caused by these differing expectations eventually leads to the grandfather moving out of the family home (something very alien to traditional expectations), and in the process he learns lessons (some comical, some poignant) about how he must adapt to his new surroundings before he comes to terms with his new life.

The title of the film refers to the pushing hands training that is part of the grandfather's T'ai Chi routine. Pushing hands is a two person training which teaches T'ai Chi students to yield in the face of brute force. T'ai Chi Ch'uan teachers were persecuted in China during the Cultural Revolution, and his family was broken up as a result. The grandfather sent his son to the West several years earlier and when he could he came to live with his family with the expectation of picking up where they left off, but he was unprepared for the very different atmosphere of the West. "Pushing Hands" thereby alludes to the process of adaptation to culture shock felt by a traditional teacher in moving to the United States.


ms_lili said...

sounds like a good movie. ang lee is an excellent director

Rick Matz said...

Another very good one is "Eat Drink Man Woman."

ms_lili said...

sounds familiar. have you seen house of the flying daggers yet?