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"Sometimes a simple thing like taking a bath can be so difficult," says an ancient wise woman in the 1999 Chinese film Shower. But the modern-day characters in this lightweight comedy appear to have time for little else. At Master Liu's bathhouse, men of all ages idle away the day bathing, soaking, washing, getting rubdowns, playing games, and watching crickets fight to the death. Master Liu (Zhu Xu) is content with this low-tech, small-town life and the daily routine of the bathhouse. He and his mentally retarded son Er Ming (Jiang Wu) have a warm and playful relationship that seems untouched by the world outside, and their lives are inextricably tied to the easy routine offered by the simple and comforting environment of the bathhouse. It is when Master Liu's older, urbane son Da Ming (Pu Cunxin) comes to visit (mistakenly thinking that his father is dying) that he finds the town and the bathhouse visitors a little too primitive for his sophisticated tastes. But the more time he spends with his family, the more he comes to appreciate the world they have created. And doesn't all of this sound like just about every warm, fuzzy "little comedy" you've seen in the last 20 years? There are no surprises in Shower, and unless you actually haven't seen a movie in 20 years, you'll know from the outset exactly where director Zhang Yang (Spicy Love Soup) is taking you. That's not to say that the movie doesn't have its charming moments — Zhu Xu and Jiang Wu give fine performances, and it is particularly refreshing to see a positive portrayal of a father who connects so intimately with his son. Lighthearted but routine, Yang's film is nonetheless sweet, and it also won several film festival prizes upon release, including awards at Sundance and Toronto. Columbia TriStar's DVD edition of Shower features an anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in DD 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround, in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles. Talent files, bonus trailers. Keep-case.
—Kerry Fall

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