Movie Review – The Search for General Tso (2014)
This documentary looks at the meaning and history behind the popular General Tso’s chicken dish, so common today in Americanized Chinese restaurants. The documentary looks into who General Tso was, the history and experience of Chinese immigrants coming to America and starting up restaurants, and how the General Tso chicken dish was developed and became such a staggering success.
This was a fascinating and informative work looking into something in more detail that the viewer may have taken for granted in the past, or may have wondered about vaguely but never had time to research. Just what is this General Tso Chicken dish all about anyways?
The documentary did a good job of covering history and providing a great context into how Chinese food came to become such a staple in America, and further how decisions were made to “Americanize” the dishes to appeal to people in the United States.
Another nice aspect was the usage of graphics, cartoons, and pictures in addition to footage, to create a real sense of style and zest to the work. The documentary felt fresh and enjoyable to watch.
The interviews of the various people in the film were also very enlightening, as we could hear some immigration stories and entrepreneurial stories from the Chinese restaurant owners themselves, and the next generation as well.
Two slight issues to the overall documentary. Firstly, at the conclusion, I somehow got a sense that the entire story didn’t get fully wrapped up and tied together, and that the various components and sections of the documentary felt a little too loosely connected. Ideally, it would have felt more a cohesive package. Secondly, although the piece did a great job covering a range of relevant topics, I somehow got the sense that some sections o some topics did not get the full treatment of exploration that they should have received. For example, the differences in America between Americanized Chinese food and more authentic Chinese food, and how these lead to different outcomes in terms of customer base, financial results, etc., and what this says about culture, food diversity, etc.
Overall however, this was a very intriguing topic, and one can feel at the conclusion that they have learned something that can be shared with others.
Overall: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.