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Yellow (1998)

Eight friends in Los Angeles spend their last evening together as they face graduation from high school and the onset of their adult lives. One of them gets in unexpected trouble when he ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Chung ...
Sin Lee (as Michael Daeho Chung)
...
Alex
...
Joey
...
Yo Yo
Angie Suh ...
Grace
Mia Suh ...
Teri
...
Janet
Mary Chen ...
Mina
...
Woon Lee
...
Snake Ajima
...
Aaron (as Charles Chun)
...
Mrs. Lee
Junek Lu ...
Aunt Omi
...
Grace's Mom
Sharon Omi ...
Mrs. Park
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Storyline

Eight friends in Los Angeles spend their last evening together as they face graduation from high school and the onset of their adult lives. One of them gets in unexpected trouble when he loses a large sum of his dad's money. The friends rally together to attempt to raise the money back in one evening in a wild and desperate scavenger hunt. Written by <jagstang@netasia.com>

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Eight teens in Los Angeles have one night they will never forget.

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Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language
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Release Date:

29 May 1998 (USA)  »

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One-dimensional characters + inane script = painful movie
24 April 2001 | by See all my reviews

In his feature film debut `Yellow,' Chris Chan Lee attempts to enlighten Hollywood's portrayal of Asian-Americans by departing from the stereotypes typically depicted in mainstream film. However, in so doing, Lee commits a far more heinous crime: he exaggerates Asian-Americans' own stereotypes of themselves to the point of incredulity. The result? Dreadfully one-dimensional characters and an outrageously shallow script triggers the cast into a frenzy of over-acting, ultimately resulting in a film that is physically painful to watch.

Don't be deceived by any of the positive reviews garnered by `Yellow'; each falls into one of two camps. In one corner (e.g., right here on imdb.com), you find Asian-Americans who are so elated that an Asian character can be depicted onscreen without thick glasses and a math book, that they somehow neglect the idiocy of Lee's final product. On the other hand, you find movie critics who have simply presumed that it'd be uncool to give `Yellow' the thorough bashing that it deserves; after all, it's an edgy Asian-American film made by an independent Asian-American filmmaker... protected territory for now.

Case example: main character Sin Lee (Michael Chung). Writer/Director Lee accomplishes a monumental feat with Sin, by editing `Yellow' in such a way that Sin never appears onscreen unless he is either scowling or yelling. See Sin resenting his friends' support. Scowl. See Sin walk along the beach and brood. Scowl. (Yelling ensues.) See Sin closing up his father's shop. Scowl. See Sin urinating. Scowl. See Sin breathing. Scowl.

Gee, I wonder if Sin is full of Asian-American angst. Do you think? I'm not sure. Scowl. Scowl.

Just to be thorough, Lee introduces us to Sin's father, Woon Lee (Soon-tek Oh). Throughout the movie, whereas Sin simply scowls or yells, Mr. Lee scowls *and* yells. In fact, this is Woon's principal role in `Yellow': simultaneous scowling and yelling.

Gee, I wonder if Woon is an Asian father with an authority complex. Do you think? I'm not sure. Scowl. Yell.

If Lee's one-dimensional characters don't annoy you, his story line will. Meet Mina (Mary Chen) and Joey (John Cho), two characters that exist in this film solely for the purpose of spinning a tangential and entirely irrelevant love story into the film. You see, Lee learned in film school that every good movie must include some sort of love-related subtext, and these two characters allow him to fulfill the obligation. Mina and Joey's excruciatingly inane flirting dialogue consists of one-liner insults culminating in a kiss: `Nerd!'; `Stupidhead!'; (eyes meet); (understanding smile); (kissing ensues).

But rest assured, somewhere out there, Sin is scowling while this all takes place.

That neither Mina nor Joey contributes in any way whatsoever to the film's plot does not perplex me so much as Lee's insistence on the most hackneyed movie cliches to accomplish his nonsequiturs. And trust me, the flirting sequence is just the tip of the iceberg.

Towards the end of the film, we find Woon Lee attempting to explain his constant scowling and yelling to Sin's girlfriend, Teri (Mia Suh), in what I am sure Lee meant to be a poignant moment. What a surprise: as Woon invokes a metaphorical story about the homeland to illustrate his point, ripped straight out of Reader's Digest, his voice quivers in that extra-special paternal way. The camera pans into an obligatory shot of Teri's trembling hands. We feel compelled to roll our eyes, except we realize that Woon's explanation makes no sense whatsoever. But lack of substance didn't stop Lee from making the movie, so why would he cut this particularly ineffective scene? After all, the world can always use another cliché.

Well, you say, the movie may be painful, but at least it *must* be a technical masterpiece -- say, like, `What Dreams May Come.' Sorry, on a technical basis, `Yellow' disappoints as well. Lee's edits are awkward and disrupt what little rhythm exists in the film at all, but I'm sure Lee thought they would seem hip. To make matters worse, every frame is either underexposed or overexposed. Although the light meter was invented in 1932, somehow the newfangled technology didn't make it onto the `Yellow' set.

In light of the film's utter deficiency, supporting actor Burt Bolos, who plays Sin's best friend Alex, performs relatively well. Although Bolos overacts slightly, you can't really blame him when Lee's script consists solely of scowling and yelling. Bolos' castmates, on the other hand, show no restraint in their overacting whatsoever.

I have not seen a film as bad as `Yellow' in a very long time. And I truly pray that I will not see a film as bad as `Yellow' for quite some time, as well. Please do not waste see it; life is already way too short. Thank you.


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