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Tampopo [Import]

Ken Watanabe , Tsutomu Yamazaki , Jűz˘ Itami    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 68.75
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Tampopo [Import] + Jiro Dreams of Sushi / Jiro rŕve de sushi (Bilingual) (Sous-titres franšais)
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Product Description


Like seeds of a dandelion blowing in the wind, the plot of Tampopo wanders in several directions, following the lives of a quirky collection of characters. At the heart of this film is a young widow named Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto), who is struggling to make ends meet by running a noodle restaurant. Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki), a truck driver, saves Tampopo's young son from being beaten by a group of school girls and is rewarded with a bowl of very bad ramen (noodles). Goro tells Tampopo the awful truth about her cooking and she asks for his help. Together they search for the perfect ramen recipe.

Intersecting this part of the plot are several smaller and less well-realized stories. Koji Yakusho, who stars in Shall We Dance, appears as a sensuous gangster who would rather play with his food than eat it. Then there's the mysterious Noodle Master who lives with a group of street vagabonds and a young executive who knows how to order food from a French menu, but not how to preserve the dignity of his superiors.

While the film as a whole feels somewhat disjointed, writer-director Juzo Itami manages to infuse Tampopo (which means "dandelion") with a sense of Japanese joie de vivre that is worth experiencing. Take notes during the "soup scenes" and see what you can cook up for yourself. --Luanne Brown

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dandelions, Cowboys and the perfect Ramen June 23 2004
"Tampopo" is one of those rare films that just...works. Every piece of it is perfect, combining to form a more flavorful whole, like a well-made dish of ramen noodles. Itami was inspired for this film, and it is easily one of the best Japanese films ever made.
Japanese culture is filled with a love of food. Japanese travel brochures are filled, not with pretty sights and adventures, but with photos of local delicacies and dishes. Food questing is a popular hobby, with each person knowing a local favorite shop, or a master chef. Restaurants also tend to specialize, often serving only one dish such as ramen or udon noodles. "Tampopo" perfectly captured this national obsession, creating a story that is undeniable Japanese. Goro and Tampopo's search for the perfect broth, the most delicious way to cut meat and such is an honest and charming portrayal.
There is plenty going on in this film, with the sexual subplot of the gangster and his lover exchanging food and sex, or the young executive fluent in French cuisine. Each vignette forwards the tone. Along with this is the marriage of the samurai and the cowboy in the character of Goro, and the delicate strength of Tampopo herself.
You really can't go wrong with this film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Howdy There Pahdner! June 6 2003
I'm guessing that the director, Itami, had a great love for all the movie genres, including Westerns, gangster movies, comedies, you name it, because they are all loving reflected in this movie.
As others have noted, the plot is definitely patterned after Italian Spaghetti Westerns--a handsome but weathered character (Goro) comes into town and spots a widowed mother in distress (Tampopo). With the help of his eccentric friends (including a band of culinary hobos that sing in exquisite harmony a farewell song whenever their leader leaves them for a time), Goro helps Tampopo turn her fortunes around by becoming a noodle soup master! I could definitely see John Wayne playing the part of Goro every time he adjusted the brim of his cowboy hat or the bandana around his neck.
In addition to the main story line of the winsome noodle shop owner, several unconnected episodes are included. What ties them all together seems to be the theme of enjoying and appreciating and living for food, from the story of the noodle master imparting his wisdom on the perfect noodle soup to the disciple, to the old woman who sneakily wanders through an upscale grocery store just to TOUCH food, to the charismatic gangster whose dying words to his lover are about the wonders of an esoteric food delicacy, the intestines of freshly killed boars who have dined on yams that make a natural yam sausage.
Sounds odd, I know, but the director has a warm, affectionate viewpoint that lets us enjoy the eccentricities of the characters while still feeling good about them. There is not the faintest trace of meanness or cynicism in this movie. Laugh out loud scenes make this one of the funniest movies I've seen in years, and the honesty and poignancy of the wonderful characters will make this movie live in my memory for many years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will be hungry for real ramen! May 24 2004
It can be very difficult to describe this movie and what the premise or plot is. Oh, there is the central plot, make no mistake, but the entirity of the film is a flurry of sub-stories and vignettes that act like ingredients to the ever-present ramen (Japanese noodle soup) otherwise known as this brilliant gem out of Japan. The bottom line, the final product is a fancifal tale based around food and how our lives are encompassed by it, how we struggle with it, and most importantly how integral it is to human beings on the whole.
Tampopo also is an homage film to a few genres depending on the scene. For example, Goro (an obvious samurai reference) drives into town on a truck... with cow horns on the top! He wears the cowboy hat constantly and those themes are as thick as the noodles he's seeking out. There is also a tribute to Chaplin/Keaton and the silent comedies with one of the vagabonds in his efforts to make a rice omelette. There are a few mob movie shots as well, including the semi-narrator or guide of the man in the white suit. Beyond celebrating these genres, though, as well as film itself, this really is a story about food.
Tampopo is a widowed soup cook who can't really make soup. Ramen, one of the staple Japanese foods, is as varied and unique in stores throughout the town as there are chicken soup recipes in the US. She can't seem to make a good bowl, though, and Goro feeling bad for her, decides to stay on and help her out with the help of his sidekick Gun. Along the way, they pick up a colorful band of characters each with his own addition to the recipe and technique that helps Tampopo understand the importance of finding that perfect bowl of Ramen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem in the tradition of movies about food April 1 2004
After one rental viewing, I had to own this hysterical, absurd parody of Japanese food, culture, and the American Western. From the beginning scene when a well-dressed connoisseur of food and film introduces the film - and rules of film etiquette - to the segue into the real "movie" with Goro, our hero, complete with cowboy hat and riding in his tanker truck, cab decorated on top with a pair of bull horns, this film celebrates everything it purports to, including Japanese food and film.
Goro decides to mentor Tampopo, the owner of a corner noodle stand in improving her apparently very sub-par soup. There ensues a montage of preparation and work-outs that could if been lifted straight from "Rocky."
Excellent scene, as well in which a group of homeless people review various 4 star restaurant establishments based on their leftovers. Genius.
A wider variety of cinematographic choices - close ups, approaching shots, and vaseline-lensed romance sequences - are almost characters in and of themselves, adding to the absurdity of Tampopo.
The sometimes meandering quality of the film gives us a wonderful window into the role of food in EVERY aspect of Japanese life.
The acting performances are solid. I can imagine the fun they had making "Tampopo".
Some of the funniest parts of the film are the references to various hack devices from American Westerns. The absurdity of a showdown over a bowl of Ramen noodles is brilliant.
I see funny new details everytime I view this film, and I plan to do so MANY more times.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!
A great film! R.I.P Juzo Itami...
Published 2 months ago by Eric Medina
5.0 out of 5 stars A kaleidoscope of chefs and gourmands
Excellence in food is the central theme, with a cast of delightful characters in orbit about it. Slice of life? Well, what a slice: funny, sardonic, stylistic, creative. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Planetar
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning
This DVD is in my garbage. I bought it for a young person who is learning Japanese. There is some good stuff, humor, cooking, but the cruelty is such that I could not give it to... Read more
Published on May 22 2004 by Rose Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Tastes Great
I watched this one with a group of friends last night... it's been about 15 years since my first viewing and 8 since the last one. Read more
Published on April 5 2004 by R Rheaume
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre but excellent
The movie starts with a mafia character entering a movie theater, ordering a banquet and talking about how he hates interruptions (he threatens one of the audience with death if he... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2004 by Thomas F. Hooker
3.0 out of 5 stars Spotlight on Japan's obsession with food
Comedy doesn't always travel that well, and I think 'Tampopo' is one of those examples. I'm sure a lot of the content is meant to be parody and not taken at face value. Read more
Published on June 9 2003 by Andy Orrock
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, but sometimes a little wandering
This is comedy on low heat. The humor starts out subdued and stays that way throughout the movie. Taken scene by scene, this would be the recipe for a lukewarm movie, but taken... Read more
Published on June 3 2003 by raboof
5.0 out of 5 stars A feast of a movie!
I first owned this on laser disk (The Beta-Max of DVD formats..)
This movie is excellent. It's a comedy and a study of how
people relate to food in so many, many... Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming film about food, love and life...
Tampopo is clearly one of the most charming and witty films I've ever seen. Appropriately known as a "Japanese Noodle Western", Tampopo tells the story of a woman's journey toward... Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2002 by Greg Heist
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