Four older women, all Chinese immigrants living in San Francisco, meet regularly to play mahjong, eat, and tell stories. Each of these women has an adult Chinese-American daughter. The film reveals the hidden pasts of the older women and their daughter's lives shaped by the clash of Chinese and American cultures as they strive to understand their family bonds and one another.
The Joy Luck Club has been widely praised by critics and was well received by audiences. Critic Gene Siskel, who singled out the script and performances, praised the film for presenting images of Asian-Americans outside the narrow range of childhood violinists and spelling bee winners, opining that its main accomplishments were its depiction of how the brutal lives of women in China could continue to influence the lives of their American daughters, and its ability to allow audiences to relate to a large group of Chinese-Americans as individuals.
Some critics, such as Asian American author Frank Chin, however, have criticized the film for perpetuating stereotypes, particularly regarding Asian males.
- Kieu Chinh as Suyuan Woo
- Tsai Chin as Lindo Jong
- France Nguyen as Ying-Ying St. Clair
- Lisa Lu as An-Mei Hsu
- Ming-Na Wen as June Woo
- Tamlyn Tomita as Waverly Jong
- Lauren Tom as Lena St. Clair
- Rosalind Chao as Rose Hsu Jordan
- Michael Paul Chan as Harold, Lena's Husband
- Andrew McCarthy as Ted Jordan
- Christopher Rich as Rich
- Russell Wong as Lin Xiao
- Vivian Wu as An-Mei's Mother
- Chao-Li Chi as Canning Woo
- Victor Wong as Old Chong the Piano Teacher
- Irene Ng as Lindo (Adolescent)
- Directed by: Wayne Wang
- Screenplay by: Amy Tan and Ronald Bass
- Produced by: Patrick Markey, Wayne Wang, Amy Tan, and Ronald Bass