Eve And The Fire Horse

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Eve And The Fire Horse Review


Eve, the young Chinese protagonist of Eve and the Fire Horse, was born in the Year of the Fire Horse. According to Chinese tradition, children born during the Year of the Fire Horse grow up to be strong-willed and difficult. The film chronicles one challenging year for her and her family.

Growing up in Vancouver, Canada in the late 1960s, nine-year-old Eve Eng (Phoebe Kut) and her older sister Karena Eng (Hollie Lo) find themselves stuck at a spiritual crossroads. While those around them practice more contemporary forms of religion, their family still believes in the old Buddhist traditions of their homeland. Every day their grandmother (Ping Sun Wong) pours three cups of tea for spirits who never drink them. For special family occasions, their aunt cooks pots full of long noodles - meant to promote a long, healthy life. Eve and Karena feel disconnected from this religious symbolism.

In search of their own spiritual identity, the open-minded sisters fall hard for the doctrine of the Bible. Eve and Karena start attending Sunday school, try to convert their friends, and display crosses and Jesus figurines throughout their house - including in their family's Buddhist shrine. Surprisingly, their mother May Lin (Vivian Wu) doesn't have an issue with Eve and Karena's new interest in Catholicism. In fact, May Lin thinks that two Gods living in their house are certainly better than one. Their father Frank (Lester Chan) thinks his family has gone mad.

Eve and the Fire Horse is a very sweet and affecting family drama. Writer/director Julia Kwan gives us a unique glimpse into the spiritual lives of several generations of Chinese-American descendants. The characters are all crafted with the greatest of care; their personalities sparkle with life and energy. It feels like we've known the family for years. The heartwarming relationship between Eve and Karena is a joy as we watch these two impressionable young girls make very grown-up decisions about the direction of their spiritual lives.

Yet for all its sweetness, Eve and the Fire Horse feels relatively empty. We're exposed to a myriad of Eng family celebrations and tragedies throughout the year, but none of them are followed through to a satisfying conclusion. Each event is introduced with just enough detail to reveal a related superstition, only to abandon the plot point later. When a family member needs surgery, Eve and Karena must wait outside the hospital because it would introduce bad karma if they went inside. We never learn what happens after the surgery.

The incomplete storylines really do a disservice to Horse's fascinating characters and to those of us watching who feel like part of the family. Ultimately, it's not the family or even Eve that endures the greatest challenges in the Year of the Fire Horse; instead it is the audience who suffers more.

Fire, water, horse.



Eve And The Fire Horse

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 1st January 2006

Budget: $1.5M

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 10 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Julia Kwan

Producer: Thomas Brown, Julia Kwan, Shan Tam

Starring: as May-Lin Eng, Phoebe Kut as Eve Eng Kut

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