The Meaning of Life (Qiang zha ma mi) - Movie Review

Updated: Dec 7, 2019


As with all movies on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the film, but rather to document how the movie relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.

The Meaning of Life (Qiang zha ma mi) movie was released in 1995, directed by Yat Ping Wong, and written by Bill Yip.

The comedic film is about is about three families:

1) a family that has five daughters and only cares about having a son

2) a family that cannot have children

3) a family that doesn't want to have children

The first family with five daughters fails to realize how fortunate they are, and often neglect or even forget about their youngest daughter. After they forget "5-bamboo" (or at least this is what the translation called their youngest daughter) at the doctor's office, the second family returns her. Shiu from the second family, knowing she cannot have children devises a plan with her husband to kidnap the 5-bamboo from the uncaring household. Shiu succeeds, dragging Joey from the third family into the mix. Joey, a doctor who has delivered over 100 babies, has decided with her husband Lam, not to have children—noting that they cannot guarantee a child's happiness in such a chaotic world.

Joey consoling Shiu after the news of not being pregnant states the following:

I know how you feel. From the biological point of view having children is man's sacred duty. But from the marriage angle, it's not that important. The main thing is to be happy together. Nevertheless, a woman reaching a certain age can't help yearning to be a mother. Two could be as happy but a little life is needed at the tight time. No life is perfect without an adult growing up with his children.

And with that, you have the summation of the entire plot. Well except the parts about 5-bamboo being thrown off a building, put in a cooker, and fought over by several groups of people. The story is very predictable from start to finish, but rather clever when adding together all the story lines. Eventually, the first family realizes how much they miss 5-bamboo, and finally, they get her back. Shiu from the second family ends up getting pregnant at the end. As for Joey and Lam, they decide to try for baby.

Near the end of the film, Joey adds the following line: The experience told us we can't have everything for the asking. Life, life, life has love. Love is the only happiness in life. As of now we'll value more what we own. Love and company. (I suspect the translations were a bit off in several parts)

The meaning of life? It is apparent from the writer and creator of the film that family is the answer. If a couple cannot have children, they should not give up hope. Miracles can happen, and if not, two people can still live a happy and fulfilling life together.

Movie rating: Overall - 5 Meaning of Life Relevance - 4 Uniqueness – 4

Have you seen the film? If so, let us know your thoughts by commenting at the bottom of this page. The movie might be a bit hard to find, but you might be able to track down a copy on eBay if you are lucky.

#family