In the 1980s, China was undergoing rapid economic reform. This meant that many young Chinese had the opportunity to look for a better life through higher education, both at home and abroad. Many of those hardworking students are now some of China's most successful entrepreneurs. Hong Kong director Peter Chan now pays tribute to those dreamers with American Dreams in China
. The hit comedy drama traces the two-decade journey of three friends, from their humble university days to becoming the co-founders of an amazingly successful English school. While the story is based on a real English education institute in China, Chan also integrates some of his own experiences as a foreign student in the United States into the film.
Chan's first character drama since his award-winning classic Comrades, Almost a Love Story, Dreams may lack the spectacle of Warlords or the visceral action of Wu Xia. However, it compensates for that with a strong cast, comprised of Huang Xiaoming (The Last Tycoon), Tong Dawei (The Flowers of War) and Deng Chao (The Four), as well as the acting debut of supermodel Du Juan. The legendary Christopher Doyle (Chungking Express, Happy Together) also brings his eye for exquisite visuals as the cinematographer of this humorous drama about friendship, ambition and English language education.
Cheng Dongxing (Huang Xiaoming), Meng Xiaojun (Deng Chao) and Wang Yang (Tong Dawei) are three university friends who, like many other young people in 1980's China, dream of going to the United States. However, only Xiaojun is able to get a visa to the United States, leaving his two friends behind. After getting fired from his dead-end English teaching job in the university and a failed relationship with the beautiful Su Mei (Du Juan), Dongxing learns to turn his life's failures into lesson material. With Wang Yang's help, Dongxing's small private English teaching lessons eventually become a small English school in a run-down countryside factory. When Xiaojun returns to China, disillusioned about the so-called "American Dream," he decides to join Dongxing and Yang's school. Within just a few years, their school grows into an education empire.