Combination Platter

An illegal immigrant from Hong Kong (Jeff Lau), struggling to speak English and desperate for a green card, goes to work at a Chinese restaurant in Queens in this independent first feature (1993) by Tony Chan, written with Edwin Baker. I was won over from the beginning by its engaging artlessness, its unpolished acting and less-than-action-packed story. If you’ve ever wondered how Chinese restaurants operate, this modest, bilingual (English and Chinese, with various characters speaking both Cantonese and Mandarin dialects) comedy-drama gives you a comprehensive idea, and the cast of charactersincluding a Chinese American clerk who doesn’t speak Chinese, a waiter beleaguered by gambling debts, and a shy Caucasian woman the hero is talked into datingkeeps things hopping. (JR)

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