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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Joy Luck Club (1993)

The Joy Luck Club (1993)

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Released 23-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 133:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Wayne Wang

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Ming-Na Wen
Tamlyn Tomita
Lauren Tom
Rosalind Chao
Kieu Chinh
Tsai Chin
France Nuyen
Lisa Lu
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Rachel Portman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This a very well done film adaptation of novelist Amy Tan's first book about four Chinese women who migrated to America and their American-born daughters.

    The film revolves around a large dinner party held to celebrate June's (Ming-Na Wen) impending trip to China to reunite two sisters she had never met. They were tragically abandoned by her late mother Su-Yuan (Kieu Chinh) on the roadside in mysterious circumstances many many years ago back in China. Long believed to be "dead", the sisters' existence was recently discovered by Su-Yuan's church mahjongg club friends Lindo (Tsai Chin), Ying-Ying (France Nuyen) and An-Mei (Lisa Lu).

    Through a series of flashbacks, we gradually discover that underneath their seemingly comfortable and prosperous lives in San Francisco, each of the women has had a fairly interesting past back in China. Their memories have shaped their perceptions of life, and influenced their sometimes rocky relationships with their daughters. Lindo was sold in an arranged marriage to a draconian mother-in-law and married to a brat, Ying-Ying was married to a cruel playboy, and An-Mei's mother had to endure the humiliation of becoming the fourth wife or concubine to a man who raped her. Their stories are a mixture of the incredible and the tragic, and once we hear their stories we cannot help but to admire them for their heroicism and bravery.

    We also get glimpses of the daughters' lives, as young girls and then as adults. June as a child seemed destined to disappoint her mother's ambitions and hope, and as an adult has become a timid young woman with low self-esteem, but with a kind heart. Waverley (Tamlyn Tomita) was a young chess prodigy who as an adult is having problems getting her mother Lindo to accept her white American boyfriend (Christopher Rich). Lena (Lauren Tom) is married to an insensitive man (Michael Paul Chan), and Rose (Rosalind Chao) is in a failing marriage with a young publishing tycoon (Andrew McCarthy).

    The film by design is fairly episodic but it all seems to work well. Each mini-story is a vignette that is worth watching, and although the stories seem disconnected, they build on each other at an emotional level into an intense climax where we finally learn what really happened to Su-Yuan and her two baby daughters. Even though I have seen this film several times already, by the end tears were streaming through my eyes, but they were tears of satisfaction and joy.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in widescreen, in the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1, based on a 35mm film print.

    This is a well presented and near-reference quality transfer, from a relatively clean film source with hardly a trace of grain. Film marks are occasional and fairly minor.

    Detail levels are good, and I kept noticing little things like the texture of wood and floors, and fabric patterns. Likewise, colour saturation is pretty much spot on, with many scenes sparking with vibrance.

    The major video artefact that I encountered was moderate to high levels of ringing due to edge enhancement. Also, the scrolling end titles seem to shimmer slightly.

    A number of subtitle tracks are available, including English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Norwegian, and Finnish. In addition, two additional subtitle tracks (linked to the English and Spanish audio tracks) provide translations of Chinese dialogue. I turned on the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle track briefly. The transcription accuracy is about average. Background noise and foley effects are transcribed, but there is no dialogue attribution.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 60:45 and is reasonably well placed because it occurs during a natural screen pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s). I listened to the English track.

    The soundtrack was originally recorded in Dolby Stereo, and has been remixed to Dolby Digital 5.1. It is a nice sounding audio track, with crystal clear dialogue and a full bodied musical score. I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.

    As I expected, the soundtrack is very dialogue-driven and front centre focused with hardly any foley effects. A stereo soundstage is only generated for the background music (which, incidentally, is a lush orchestral score by Rachel Portman).

    The surround speakers and subwoofer don't appear to be used much except in the last 15 minutes of the film from around 118:22 onwards.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Unfortunately, there are no extras on this disc, not even a trailer.


    16x9 enhanced and static.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Looks like both discs are similarly non-encumbered with extras.


    The Joy Luck Club is based on Amy Tan's first novel about the stories of four mothers who emigrated to America from China and their relationships with their American-born daughters.

    The video transfer quality is excellent, though marred by edge enhancement.

    The audio transfer quality is also excellent, though somewhat front centre focused.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, April 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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