"American Dreams in China", directed by Peter Chan, is about three young men who grew up yearning to make it to the US for the American dream during the post-Mao era when China was going through sweeping economic reforms. As it resulted, only one of them, Meng Xiaojun (played by Deng Chao), managed to pass the visa interviews and board the plane to America. Ironically, after facing many trials and tribulations in the States, Meng returns later to join the other two, who had remained, to make their 'American Dream' happen in China.
The film depicts the lead characters' struggles between the old system of communist education and bureaucracy versus the free market economy which is creeping into China at a breathtaking pace in the 1980s. Together with the opening up of the Chinese economy came the need to speak English and embrace the free market as espoused by the flagship of America, the Chinese people's symbol of freedom and prosperity, at that time.
The story of "American Dreams in China" is the epitome of the determination and sacrifice of the Chinese people to achieve what they want when opportunities arise amid relative chaos with the arrival of the free market. The motivation of the Chinese students to learn English and to do well in the TOEFL examinations reminds me of my own days as a student seeking to study in the West in the early 1980s. Many of the accusations by the American academics surrounding their suspicions of Chinese students' cheating in exams, didn't surprise me a little bit. I have heard those prejudicial remarks and worse before, first hand. Watching it on screen still evoke some anger, but at the same time a delight that at last we have progressed and are able to beat the West in their education system and their brand of market economy.
The three main actors fleshed out their characters very well in the movie. Meng, as one who has been transformed in the US and is now back to teach his old buddies about the American Way. His hard and harsh assertions clashing with the conservative Cheng Dongqing (played Huang Xiao Ming), thus testing the relationship of the trio who are as close as brothers. The disputes occasionally moderated by the Bohemian and carefree Wang Yang (played by Dong Dawei).
I would recommend anyone who wants to experience the story of the struggles of three good friends who go on to build a business empire, to watch this film.
I had the privilege to watch it during the special screening on the 10th September 2013, courtesy of Clover Films. Thank you. I love special screenings and galas, as they are occaions when happy people gathers to celebrate, and in this case, to celebrate an inspiring movie.