Ben is a perfectionist and overachiever whose tunnel vision leads to nothing less than graduating at the top of his class. As he struggles to achieve social success, he discovers his darker side. He and his friends: Virgil, Daric and Han lead a double life of mischief and petty crimes to alleviate the pressures of perfection. As their adopted identity grows, the gang tumbles into a downward spiral of excitement, excess and fun. Written by
Although some people thought that the film was inspired by the 1992 murder of Stuart Tay, an Asian-American youth who was killed by four of his peers on New Year's Eve in Orange County, California, filmmaker Justin Lin has stated that "at the very beginning of the writing process, [he] made a conscious decision not to base it on that, or any other, real event." See more »
When the camera rotates around Ben at the free-throw line, he casts different shadows from each new camera angle. See more »
What does he think he is? Some kind of Chinese movie star?
"Hi, I'm Chow-Yun Fat. I'm sorry, I-I-I thought I was going to be fucking your girlfriend tonight. I guess I'd better just go home and stroke myself weally good. Weally weally good.
[normal voice, as Ben and Han leave]
Hey! Come on! I was just getting started!
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A superbly crafted, very mature insight into teenage culture
I saw this film at the Toronto film festival, and was completely absorbed in it. It is both an intelligent observation of teenage culture and a great achievement in style and cinematography Follows in the footsteps of masterpieces like "Goodfellas" and "Menace to Society". Like them, this film plunges us into the lifestyle of its characters, and unrelentingly attempts to relate us to them. One wouldn't think that it is possible to be so consumed by a world occupied by those quiet over-achievers we overlooked in high school, but this film offers a darker, edgier vantage point that is so involving we cannot look away.
What I enjoyed so much about this film is that its characters are intelligent, but their intelligence is constantly overwhelmed by hormones and social pressures typical of the American teenager. It begins as a story of four Asian-American high school students, all with promising futures and crystal clean records, who decide to enter a life of crime and violence. Their crimes are easy because their reputations as do-gooders make them inconspicuous. The film follows Ben, whose richly observant narration offers a voyeur type insight into their declining souls. We watch, with unblinking eyes as harmless vices transform into drugs and murder. Soon enough the lives of these characters collapse, rendering one a surviver of a botched suicide attempt, and another a paranoid killer. The brilliance of these characters is not simply an excuse for their crimes, but an added weight on their shoulders. Their intelligence breeds conflict; they are smart enough to know that their lives are being jeopardized, but logical enough to see that when the extra pennies are so easy to attain, the crime is to lose the opportunity.
The crown jewel of this film is Stephanie, strongly portrayed by beautiful Karin Anna Cheug, possibly the hottest new thing to hit Hollywood in years. Her character is strong, on par with the boys in terms of intellect and achievement, but her heart is gold. Mark my words, after the release of this film, this girl is going to be on the cover of every magazine in this country. Wonderful girl, Wonderful film.
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