The Wedding Banquet [喜宴] (1993)

Without The Wedding Banquet, Miramax would not be a Disney company, and “commercial arthouse movies” would still be an oxymoron.

Back in 1993, The Wedding Banquet became the most profitable film ever. It was made for practically no budget but went on to become an international hit. The film pretty attracted the attention of “The Industry” and made them realize arthouse does not equal box office death.

It’s also the film that put director Ang Lee on the map. Without The Wedding Banquet, there would be no Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Incredible Hulk, Sense and Sensibility nor The Ice Storm.

And for its time, it was a pretty radical film as far as gay portrayals go.

The Wedding Banquet went so far as to propose two gay men and a woman could form the basis of family. The idea of gay parenting seems somewhat quaint in urban centers today, but for a film that grossed millions of dollars to feature well-round, gay characters in 1993, the year “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” became law? It was pretty amazing.

Thing is, The Wedding Banquet is just a good film. The comedic parts are funny as hell, and the spiral into a dramatic quagmire is engaging. Extract all the sociopolitical underpinnings of the film, and you got yourself your basic star-crossed love story.

The DVD doesn’t provide much in terms of extras — a featurette with Ang Lee discussing how the film was made is about it. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see perhaps one of the most important films of the 1990s available on DVD. And it is an important film — for dealing with gay themes, for changing the business model of the movie industry, for introducing one of the most successful directors of the last decade.

All in one convenient package.