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SHOWER aka XIZHAO
USA: Sony Pictures Classics
Cast: Pu Cun Xin, Zhu Xu, Jiang Wu, Zeng He
Director: Yang Zhang
Language: Mandarin (English subtitles)
USA: 92 mins
UK: 94 mins
USA Rated: PG-13 for language and nudity
UK Certificate: 12 contains strong language and mild sex references
USA Release Date: 7 July (Limited Release - New York and Los Angeles)
UK Release Date: 30 March 2001
SHOWER is a heartwarming story that examines the current state of Chinese culture where cherished traditions are being abandoned by the modern world.
A young, wealthy businessman's icy attitude toward his working-class background is about to thaw as he is forced to reconnect with his elderly father and mentally challenged younger brother, who together run a public bathhouse.
After receiving a cryptic postcard from his brother, Da Ming (Pu Cun Xin) believes that his elderly father has died. He plans to take a day or two off from his high-paying job in the modernized region of Shenzhen to head north to the meager home of his youth in Beijing.
Here he finds his father alive and well. In fact, it appears to Da Ming that nothing has changed in the old neighborhood. His father, Master Liu (Zhu Xu) still runs his public men's bathhouse where generosity, health, and relaxation are a way of life. As Da Ming quickly notices, Master Liu's customers have become his family. The men loyally come to the baths every day to soak in the hot tubs, get massaged, and reveal their deepest secrets. Here, stripped of social restrictions, they believe they can find the solutions to their problems. And for the most part, they're right. Master Liu explains that when a person is in his bathhouse, they are his customers and his responsibility. He will do anything to make sure they are safe and satisfied. He even goes so far as to mend a fraying marriage by offering the bathhouse as a midnight rendezvous spot for the couple to get their sexual juices flowing.
But Da Ming can no longer relate to this community. Once again throwing in the towel on his father and younger brother Er Ming (Jiang Wu), Da Ming prepares to rush back to his fast-paced life, but he is forced to take a closer look at his priorities when Er Ming turns up missing and his father blames the self absorbed Da Ming. A series of mishaps increasingly challenge Da Ming's outlook on life and way of thinking, and he has to take over from his father, Master Liu, and run the family business. When Master Liu learns that his ancient bathhouse is scheduled to be demolished so that a shopping mall can be erected, it's only the beginning of more serious tragedies to come.