Yellow (I) (1998)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
i came out of the movie unconvinced. unconvinced that these characters had a life long, blood-brother like connection with each other to go to the lengths they did to help their buddy out. unconvinced that the main character had anything beyond a superficial attraction to his girlfriend. unconvinced that hard working immigrant parents wouldn't pay for their son's college education. unconvinced that all of the characters were even necessary, i.e.: janet, who is put to bed in the back of the car and quickly forgotten.
the story line, which i actually think had potential, was not allowed to come into its own for two reasons: 1) flat characters for whom i had no sympathy/affinity, 2) the plot is overshadowed by meaningless non-sequitur scenes, such as the seance/donut shop sequence with amy hill which was simply ridiculous and unnecessary.
i commend park for his efforts, as i'm sure it took a lot of hard work to even produce the film, and i'll even give him the benefit of the doubt this time around as a rookie director/screenwriter, but i sincerely hope that next time around he'll go a little deeper. just because the film is one of the first of its kind about the korean american experience, doesn't mean it's automatically good.
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.
While the lead character turns in a mediocre performance, The supporting cast shines. Sin's Father turns in an epic performance as the overprotective father who only wants the best for his child, including the morals and drive that he learned along the way. In a very telling scene between Sin's Father and Sin's girlfriend, we learn that Sin's Father is not as evil as he may seem. He is truly trying to provide the absolute best for his child, and have him not see the eons of struggles of life.
Another amazing performance is turned in by Alex, Sin's best friend. A guy who is willing to compromise everything, just for his friend. His emotion is true, and his desperation is apparent. One could only wish for a friend like that...
This is a film that transcends the racial barriers. Yellow is appropriately titled not for the "Racial Overtones" rather that Yellow is the color of cowardice. Sin exhibits this cowardice, courage and desperation in this epic tale of growing up.
I feel that the whole background of the story warrants a film. It seems to me that it is almost a documentary that is happening in real time. The main character (Sin) doesn't quite get me by the end of the film. I never really understand his motives, and some of the things he does to his friends are just too far fetched and don't lend me to respecting his situation. He seemed like a first time actor, and I think other male memebers of the cast could've pulled off the role with a much greater strength. The rest of the cast was pretty strong especially the father of Sin and Sin's mother.
My favorite part of the film is the beautiful moment between Sin's father and his girlfriend. I also enjoyed the cliche love scene between Joey and Mina's character. I didn't like the symbolic coins falling on the floor at the beginning nor during the robbery. It lacked a force that I wanted to get hit with. Also, there were bad edits with the sound. The scene when we are introduced to Burt Bulos and Jason Tolbin's characters with the basketball...the cars that pass by, with the cuts make it sound out of sequence and that there is obvious audio cutaways. But overall it was alright.
So watch the movie
The circumstances, characters and ideas portrayed are sure to strike a chord with anyone who grew up in a Korean-American household. The film may be criticized for it's inaccuracies in certain areas or the fantastic events that occur as we follow this group of asian teenagers, but inaccuracy and fantastic events are somewhat expected on the big screen, and in my opinion do not detract whatsoever.
The film centers on the activity of a Korean H.S. student name Sin. (I assure you, the name is not symbolic at all.) He has aspirations of attending college, however, his somewhat overbearing father has other plans for his future. Backed into a corner, how far will Sin go to bring his dreams to fruition?
Certain scenes are particularly poignant and mandate special attention: Sin's girlfriend confronts Sin's father - What follows is Sin's father's take on life in which he equates a handful of rice to life for his entire family. For all children of recent immigrants who now enjoy a standard of life much better than their parents had when they were children, be aware and thankful of the sacrifices that were made completely on your behalf. Alex, Sin's friend, stereotypes different ethnicities that frequent the Lee family's store - attempts are made to tackle race relations in the powder keg that is L.A. Grace's inability to communicate with her mother - It was is if the writer was present for my entire childhood. The generation gap is made even wider when parents and children grow up in different worlds.
I thought the acting, in my uneducated opinion, was all around very good. On top of it all, the entertainment factor was high.
Right now, the movie is difficult to find, if at all. However, I believe it marks too important a step to fade quietly away.