Ask the Yangxifu: Movies with Chinese Men and Western Women in Love

Yes, sometimes the Chinese man does get the Western woman in the movies -- such as in "For All Eternity."
Yes, sometimes the Chinese man does get the Western woman in the movies -- such as in "For All Eternity." (image from Amazon.com)

B asks:

I was wondering because you often mention about Hollywood and the lack of Chinese men getting the girl. Can you think of any other movies to recommend where a foreign girl gets together with a Chinese or even an Asian male. All I can think of is Shanghai Kiss, Mao’s Last Dancer and the other one Ramen Girl is in Japan so it’s kind of not the same.

My friend told me about a movie aired on CCTV in Chinese about a rich American woman who falls for a peasant Chinese man but she forgets the name of it. Do you happen to know it?

—-

B, I can do more than think of those movies — I’ll give you a list with a quick synopsis of each, including the titles you mentioned above.

Not sure what that CCTV movie is. But maybe by the time you work through this list, we’ll get an answer from someone (readers?).

A few criteria I used to choose the films. The man must be Chinese or Chinese-American. It should be obvious the couple is in love, or married (sorry, guys, but Romeo Must Die and Kiss of the Dragon just don’t cut it). No ultra-campy cult films, either (but if that’s your style, try Mighty Peking Man).

Here goes:

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

The true story of Bruce Lee — which includes his romance and eventual marriage in the US with a Caucasian woman.

Fakin Da Funk

A mistake at the adoption agency sends a Chinese baby to an African-American family. But when he grows up and goes to South-Central LA to find his roots, everyone thinks he’s “acting black.” Along the way, he finds love with an African-American girl (reminds me of Jo Gan).

For All Eternity (also known as “On the other side of the bridge” and “芬妮的微笑”)

Based on the story of Gertrude Wagner-Du, who met her Chinese husband in Vienna and followed him to China. But when he’s captured in the wake of the Communist takeover, she must learn how to survive in a foreign land, on her own.

A Great Wall

A Silicon-Valley Chinese-American executive returns to China for the first time in 30 years, with his Caucasian wife in tow — and his son has a Caucasian girlfriend. Think family culture clash, with Chinese characteristics.

The Lover

A French teenager in Indochina falls into an illicit love affair with an older Chinese man (played by a young and sexy Tony Leung).

Mao’s Last Dancer

The incredible story of Li Cunxin, a poor rural Chinese who eventually becomes an internationally famous ballet dancer — and happens to romance a Western woman along the way.

Pushing Hands

Chinese in-laws getting you down? You might enjoy this story of family conflict between a Chinese father-in-law and Western daughter-in-law. She hates having him around the house, he hates the way she raises kids and keeps the home up. You get the idea.

Restless

Two parallel stories in Beijing — including one of a Western woman who falls in love with a Chinese chess master — capture the essence of international romance and conflicting cultural traditions.

Shanghai Kiss

A struggling Chinese-American actor goes to Shanghai ostensibly to sell his grandmother’s estate, but ends up discovering his own identity. (He has a Caucasian girlfriend in the movie, played by Hayden Panettiere of Heroes).

What are your favorite movies featuring romance between Chinese men and Western women?

P.S.: Have a movie clip you’d like to share? Post it up at the Speaking of China Facebook Page.

Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China (or in Chinese culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.

Did you enjoy this article?
Sign up now and receive an email whenever I publish new blog posts. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time.
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

You might also like:

40 thoughts on “Ask the Yangxifu: Movies with Chinese Men and Western Women in Love

  • October 29, 2010 at 2:22 am
    Permalink

    It’s not about China, but what about “The King and I?

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 3:21 am
    Permalink

    That movie poster you posted before the break had me thinking, “Isn’t that “Over the Bridge” or something similar?” and then I saw you’d included precisely that film in your post – but I’d remembered the title wrongly. Great movie, well worth watching, and I’m thinking I should try and dig out my copy of it next time we’re up at my in-law’s place.

    Bringing in Bruce Lee for me brings in his fictional (although I’m not sure how fictional) film “Game of Death”, in which, in one of the elements that has me wondering just how fictional it is, his girlfriend/partner/wife (it’s not clear which) – well, better half (that is clear) is a white American (including her colour because Americans are so diverse and the character happens to be the same colour as Bruce Lee’s real world wife).

    I can’t remember enough of “Kiss of the Dragon”, but I am wondering why “Romeo Must Die” is verboten. Is it because Jet Li doesn’t hook up with Aaliyah? That would be the only reason I can think of.

    “Mao’s Last Dancer” I saw being advertised when I was in New Zealand last February, but to be honest, the ads really did not inspire me to watch the film. Quite the opposite. But then the ads were pitching to an entirely different audience to the tiny niche I represent, so for all I know it may well be a brilliant film. I will withhold judgement until I’ve seen it.

    And let it be said that I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work of both Bruce Lee and Jet Li.

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 3:35 am
    Permalink

    (He’s played by a Korean actor, and there’s a mention about “ninjas”, but we’ll never know what country the character is actually from until we can watch it. You never know in Hollywood…)

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 4:15 am
    Permalink

    I know what I’ll do this weekend! I will start with the Pushing Hands 🙂 Thank you very much for this list.

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 10:34 am
    Permalink

    “The upcoming “warrior’s way” will feature Korean actor Jang Dong Gun and Kate Bosworth in love. Check out the trailer here.”

    But does he get the woman in the end? If he does not, there is no advancement in thinking!

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 10:58 am
    Permalink

    I didn’t know they made Mao’s Last Dancer into a film, I’d only read the book. I’ll have to go watch it now.

    I can think of more books featuring Chinese male/Western female relationships than I can films. If we’re talking about Hollywood movies then films featuring Asian actors in general are pretty rare and Chinese movies likewise don’t feature many foreigners. So relationships like ours on film are rare among the rare!

    It isn’t a movie, but there is this incredibly cheesy Taiwanese TV series that they were showing on Hunan TV a couple months ago that is about this English girl called Christine who falls in love with some guy called Ah something or other. Eventually her dad comes to Taiwan and forbids their relationship and it is awesomely horrible, the dad is supposed to be British but he’s obviously an American (and a horrible actor!), Christine is supposed to be British but she’s … a European of some sort, but obviously not British because her English is non-native. The whole thing is just terrible but the entire point is a Chinese guy/foreign woman love story so there you go. I can’t recall the title, I want to say it had something to do with the words star 星 or dream 梦 or something, but I’m not sure. Maybe someone knows?

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm
    Permalink

    Grace: There are scenes of flirting and kissing in the trailer. I would imagine yes. Even a kissing scene in a film like this is a step forward, no?

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 7:41 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you so much for this list! I had no idea there were so many movies where a Chinese guy and Caucasian girl fall in love! Now I want to watch them all.

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm
    Permalink

    Hi Jocelyn,

    Good information here, and oh by the way, the US girl i met, she seems like a good PR manager but not easy-going to talk with. Does it sound so strange? Haha, well, i gonna find some new things and I can find some.

    Best wish from Guangzhou

    Reply
  • October 29, 2010 at 10:34 pm
    Permalink

    I didn’t know that the man who plays Mr. Chu (the father-in-law) in Pushing Hands also played a Mr. Chu in Eat Drink Man Woman! That is one really good-looking old guy. Help me out here, Jocelyn! 😀

    Reply
  • October 30, 2010 at 2:45 am
    Permalink

    Interesting list.

    Just one question: You mention “A Great Wall.” We watched that one in my second-year Mandarin classes in college. The wife is also Asian, isn’t she? Not Caucasian. As I remember it, the husband and wife are both supposedly Chinese-American (although the actress who plays the wife is actually Japanese-American in real life). Their son does have a Caucasian girlfriend, but that is only a tiny piece of the story.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2010 at 6:34 pm
    Permalink

    There is also the movie “The Lover”, although it is more about lust than love.

    Reply
  • October 30, 2010 at 7:22 pm
    Permalink

    @CanadianAsian: If “The Lover” you are referring to is the film adaptation of the novel “L’Amant” by Marguerite Duras, then there’s much more to it than simply lust. It also would appear to be autobiographical, as Duras herself was born and raised in French Indochina and had an affair with an older Chinese man when she was a teenager. As always, though, as good as the film is, the book is much better.

    Reply
    • October 30, 2010 at 8:47 pm
      Permalink

      Wow, what a great response to this post!

      @Nicki, thanks for the comment! Yes, Anna and the King does have a Chinese (playing the king of Siam) and a Western woman together. I left it out because it’s an unrequited love — which still, in a subtle way, suggests we just can’t get it together. (Though let it be said that Chow Yun-Fat is still one of my favorite Chinese actors.)

      @Chris, thanks for the long comment! Interesting comment on Bruce Lee — it may be that his personal life inspired that choice. Yes, I did leave out Romeo Must Die because, in the end, he and Aaliyah don’t get together.

      Haven’t seen Mao’s Last Dancer myself, though I have encountered a wide range of reviews online. To be honest, not all of the titles listed above could be called “great cinema.” That’s just the reality when there are so few films like this to begin with. But I hope Mao’s Last Dancer turns out to be a good one. Let us know when you see it.

      @quadshock, thanks for sharing! I’ll have to check that movie out. Nice blog, too.

      @Sara, thanks and my pleasure!

      @Grace, thanks for the comment — and it looks like he does get the girl, from quadshocks comments.

      @Jessica, thanks for sharing that TV series, terrible though it may be. Still, it’s something. Reminds of this one series I saw several years ago, with a foreign woman in it who had a crush on a Chinese guy. It was really bad, and probably worse than what you describe, because the woman in this series was portrayed as an annoying, clingy person who got in the way of his love for a Chinese woman. Thumbs down on that!

      @melanie, thanks and glad you enjoy the list!

      @Xiaoheng, thanks for sharing — sounds like an interesting girl. Good luck with her and keep me posted!

      @Mish, yes, you’re right — Mr. Chu in both films! The actor is Sihung Lung (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihung_Lung).

      @jackie, thanks for the comment and GREAT catch. Yes, you’re right — it’s the son that has a Caucasian girlfriend. Well, I guess when you write an entry at 1:30am, you’re asking for a few big mistakes. 😉 Thanks for pointing that out — I fixed it in the post.

      @CanadianAsian, thanks for the comment. I’ll defer to @Chris Waugh on this matter (the books are always better than the films, aren’t they?)

      Reply
  • October 31, 2010 at 2:07 am
    Permalink

    I watched an old movie (filmed 1958) last night titled The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. It was about a caucasian woman who went to China before WWII to work as a missionary. Her love interest was half Dutch/half Chinese; although the actor was not.

    It was a great movie if anyone is interested. =)

    Reply
  • October 31, 2010 at 7:59 pm
    Permalink

    Haha! I watched 惡作劇2吻 and the guy that plays the guy together with the European chick (I am certain she is Italian by her accent, her English is BAD but her Chinese is good so she’s still doing better than me, haha) is Jiro Wang. <333
    I so loved him in Hana Kimi. He is just hilarious. But yes, the acting in They Kiss Again from the foreign representatives is pretty horrible.
    But then it is a sequel series. Bleh.

    Pushing Hands seems slow moving from what I have seen of it but really good, so dysfunctional. haha. One day I'll sit down and watch the whole thing.

    I really liked Shanghai Kiss back when I watched it, but it does have some pretty seedy sex scenes and a lot of foul language. It captures a lot of the frustrations only foreigners to China can relate to though so in that way it is funny. And it was sweet that even though in one way the lead (Ken Leung from Lost, totally love him) fell in love with China still nothing there could satisfy him. 🙁 Really deep when it comes down to it.

    I will look at all the others as well when I get a chance – yay!

    Reply
    • October 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm
      Permalink

      @Yasmin, thanks for sharing! I’ll have to look for that movie sometime.

      @Beth, thanks for the comment! 惡作劇2吻 sounds pretty amusing in that campy sort of way. Heck, I watched both Meteor Garden series, so even I’m not immune to getting stuck on these romantic series. 😉

      Yeah, Shanghai Kiss did have some deep moments to it. My husband and I did enjoy it, but my husband definitely had trouble understanding the lead — which of course makes sense, because this was a Chinese-American who felt more like a foreigner in China. Still a good watch.

      Reply
  • November 1, 2010 at 12:40 am
    Permalink

    Wow! I am watching Let’s Go Watch Meteor Shower (which is a remake of MG right now). I’m not sure if the remake is better or worse (probably worse) but it’s limited what is up on tudou with English subs. I could watch it without but then there’d still be a chunk I don’t understand, so I guess for now I’m just sticking with the shows I can access. But these dramas totally have me hooked. They’re not good for you either. Haha. Gives you totally unrealistic expectations about Chinese guys.
    Yeah, Shanghai Kiss is really one more for foreigners to relate to. It was sad. 🙁

    Reply
  • November 1, 2010 at 7:59 pm
    Permalink

    omg Mr. Chu is dead! Noo!

    Reply
    • November 2, 2010 at 10:11 am
      Permalink

      @Beth, LOL, I know what you mean about unrealistic expectations about Chinese guys! 😉 Anyhow, cheesy or not, TV series can still be a great way to learn Chinese.

      @Mish, yes, sad isn’t it? Though I guess, in a way, Mr. Chu does still live on through the movies.

      Reply
  • November 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm
    Permalink

    Beth – That actress is not Italian. Her background is a mixture of Greek and Ukrainian.

    Reply
  • November 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks Pat. I had no idea what her background was. Either way I’m totally jealous of her. Jiro Wang. ::sigh:: ::daydream::

    Reply
  • November 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm
    Permalink

    Tomorrow when the war began am/wf

    Reply
    • December 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm
      Permalink

      Just recently, I actually became connected with Kelvin Han Yee on Facebook, and suddenly, as I was reading his bio, I saw “A Great Wall” in his acting credits. Turns out, he was the actor who played the Chinese-American son with the Caucasian girlfriend. And also, as an interesting twist in real life, his wife is Caucasian as well. I was really excited to discover that!

      Reply
  • December 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm
    Permalink

    The Spy Next Door. Bob (Jackie Chan) marries his white neighbor at the end. Not exactly romantic but it fits criteria listed.

    Reply
  • September 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm
    Permalink

    Try this beautiful short film of Western Woman and Chinese Man starring a popular Oscar-winning actress

    Reply
  • September 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm
    Permalink

    Hello,

    There’s another movie called “When the War Began Tomorrow” filmed in 2010.

    Cheers

    Reply
  • Pingback:Books with Chinese Men and Western Women in Love | Speaking of China

  • November 20, 2011 at 2:19 am
    Permalink

    “The One” with Jet Li, it’s more a science fiction action movie, but he has a Western wife in this film and love does play a role.

    Reply
  • September 18, 2012 at 2:18 am
    Permalink

    Strongly recommend one 2012 movie called “Shanghai Calling” about a Chinese-American lawyer sent to Shanghai, finding some crazy expat trouble, love and what it means to become a coffe bean.

    A toast to this city I’m leaving, will be dearly missed.

    Reply
    • September 19, 2012 at 10:37 am
      Permalink

      @P, thanks for the suggestion! I am dying to see Shanghai Calling, and somehow missed it in the theaters. Hoping to catch it on DVD soon.

      Reply
  • October 18, 2012 at 5:32 am
    Permalink

    My favourite: The Lover with Tony Leung and Jean Marsh. Beautiful!

    Reply
  • October 18, 2012 at 5:34 am
    Permalink

    Oops sorry! The actress is Jane March!

    Reply
  • Pingback:From the Archives: Posts on Movies and Chinese Men/Western Women in Love | Speaking of China

  • March 26, 2014 at 4:25 am
    Permalink

    Forever Never is genious **

    Reply
  • January 24, 2016 at 11:33 pm
    Permalink

    The Ballad of Little Jo starring Suzy Amis is a movie a 19th century society girl journey’s west disguised as a man. She fell in love with a Chinese man she was forced to hire as her cook. They became lovers and she took care of him until he died in the movie

    Reply
  • July 11, 2017 at 3:06 am
    Permalink

    Me and my love are fans of old musicals, and I miss The King and I in this list (also the movie version with mr. Chow 😉 )

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.