Most Classic Tearjerker Taiwanese Movie & Song of All Time

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Da Cuo Che,” which literally translates to “Taking the wrong ride,” is the most classic tearjerker Taiwanese movie of all time. The film was shot in 1983, and the title was later translated to “Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing.” However, the theme song of this movie was equally tear-jerking and too good that it became one of the most famous Taiwanese folk songs, to the point that the film is better known as the song‘s title, “jiu gan tang bue bo,” which literally translates to “Any empty bottles for sale?” instead of the original title, “Da Cuo Che.”
The song is too classic, and the tune never gets old, no matter how many times you listen and repeat it. I’m only surprised that the song has yet to be translated into English after decades.
Hence, today I present you my English version of “Jiu Gan Tang Bue Bo (Any empty bottles for sale)

Watch Our Youtube Video First:

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(*** spoiler alert ahead)
A speech-impaired army veteran, Su, works as a waste and bottle collector and lives in a shanty hood of the poor with a girlfriend, Chi-Lan. Chi-Lan depends on him to bring back a bottle of wine every evening after he returns from work. One morning, on a collection run, he sees an abandoned baby girl in a basket by the street with a note that reads, “You’re a good person. Please give baby Ah-Mei a good home, and good will come to you.” He takes Ah Mei in and raises her as his birth daughter.

Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing
Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing

However, Su‘s girlfriend is upset with the addition of Ah Mei in the house and the attention he lavishes on her. The next evening, Su buys a can of powdered milk for Ah Mei instead at the expense of the usual wine for his girlfriend. When he returns home, his girlfriend bruises him in the eye. The next evening, he learns his lesson and brings home a bottle of wine, but his companion had left him and Ah Mei with a neighbour.
Being a toddler, Ah-Mei constantly cries as an abandoned baby does. However, when a neighbour questions if she could also be a mute like Su, Ah Mei speaks her first word: “Daddy.”
The man dotes on her, and the neighbours protect and love her. When it’s around time for the Chinese New Year feast, a neighbour brings over a puppy, which his wife doesn’t know how to cook and asks Su to take care of. The neighbour injures the puppy on his first beating, causing enough damage for him to bleed. Mei sees the puppy bleeding, unaware of what the puppy is intended for, takes him in and names him Lai fu.
When Ah-Mei grows old enough for school, Su escorts her to school every day with his Garbage Collection Tricycle. Mei‘s schoolmates make fun of her with her “dad‘s” slogan when collecting recyclable materials, “Have you got wine bottles to sell?
One day when a couple of kids from the same neighbourhood are chasing after Ah Mei‘s bullies after school on the field, Ah Mei falls and agitates a cobra. When the cobra lifts its body and is about to attack Ah Mei, Lai Fu comes to the rescue and bites the snake before Ah Ming and another kid from the same neighbourhood can get to her. Ah Mei eventually grows up into a beautiful young woman. She sings at a bar for work and meets a singer-songwriter, Shih Chun-mai, and they traverse the bar scene as a singing couple. Ah Mei was talent-spotted by a superstar record producer-manager looking for new talent while performing on stage with Shih Chun-mai. The producer-manager offers his business card and invites her for a meeting the next day. During the meeting, Ah Mei responded that she would partner up with the producer-manager on one condition: for Shih Chun-mai to compose for her. However, the record producer only wants Ah Mei, not her boyfriend, saying they only wish to produce mainstream commercial songs, not folk songs that Shih Chun-mai writes. Even with himself out of the picture, Shih Chun-mai selflessly encourages Ah Mei to sign. When Ah Mei signs with the producer, he informs Ah Mei that she has to move out to an apartment he has rented for her, which is their first step to becoming a superstar.
The manager‘s approach is to reinvent Ah Mei‘s image. He masks her native and Taiwanese Hokkien linguistic origins. He portrays her as the daughter of a wealthy and respectable contractor family who has emigrated to the United States, and Ah Mei decided to stay behind to pursue her singing career. Mei‘s career takes off as her popularity explodes. However, during a publicity party and press conference, Shen ni, the former superstar who Ah Mei‘s manager ditched to sign with her, exposes Ah Mei‘s origin after running into her dad. The manager denies Ah Mei‘s relationship with her father, and Mei plays along. Ah Mei‘s boyfriend languishes with her father and friends and eventually leaves her. Her neighbours grow disappointed that Ah Mei has abandoned her father for fame and fortune. Twenty years have passed, and the government has torn down Ah Mei‘s entire neighbourhood, during which her longtime childhood friend Ah-Ming, died while fighting against the authorities. Lai fu has also gotten old and passed away.
One evening, Ah Mei tries to visit her father without knowing that city authorities forcibly demolished her ghetto and where they relocated. Coincidentally, her father‘s former companion arrives and asks Ah Mei about the whereabouts of a “friend” whom she hasn’t seen for twenty years. However, Ah Mei and her dad‘s former girlfriend are unaware of their connection. Ah Mei‘s ex-boyfriend, Shih Chun-mai, visited her dad over the years and wrote a song entitled “Any empty bottles for sale?” The song was inspired by her father‘s slogan, which he used to shout in his native Taiwanese during his collecting runs.
Her father grows depressed and sick over the years for not seeing Ah Mei for so long. On Ah Mei‘s grand tour, her dad can only watch her afar on TV, and while doing so, he has flashbacks reflecting on his years raising Ah Mei. Su collapses from depression and hypertension while watching Ah Mei‘s concert on TV with his neighbours. He is brought to the hospital, dying. His widowed neighbour has grown close to him and moved in with him, witnesses everything and rushes to the show while Ah Mei is performing to tell her the bad news. Ah Mei rushes to the hospital one step too late. Su has already died. Ah Mei breaks down in tears. The film ends with Ah Mei performing on stage, singing, “Any empty bottles for sale?dedicated to her dad.
Now before you head over to watch that film, keep in mind that the movie was filmed in 1983

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