An Asian-American actor, living in Los Angeles, is forced to reconsider his roots as well as the possibilities afforded him by his present situation after suddenly inheriting his grandmother's home in Shanghai.
It's the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop. Set against this backdrop, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout New York City, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment, while having a crush on his stepdaughter.
About a guy whose life didn't quite turn out how he wanted it to and wishes he could go back to high school and change it. He wakes up one day and is seventeen again and gets the chance to rewrite his life.
A struggling Chinese-American actor, who unwittingly finds himself involved with a high school girl, learns he has inherited his grandmother's home in Shanghai. The American-raised character moves to China in an attempt to connect with his ancestry, leaving behind quite possibly the only girl who has ever loved him. Written by
When Joel returns to the table he is clearly seen holding a single serving butter pack in his left hand as he sits down, but as we switch to a different camera angle, he is holding a fork. See more »
Listen to yourself, man! You're moving to Shanghai for a girl! A *Chinese* girl for Godsakes!
This is not just about the girl.
Then what is it?
It just -- it *feels* right! I'm Chinese. I gotta go back to my roots.
All right, slow down, Kunta Kinte. You don't even speak Chinese. What the hell are you gonna do? What, drive a rickshaw?
I can learn Chinese.
Learn Chinese?! Liam, you barely speak English!
Don't call me Liam. Liam's my slave name.
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Wow an Asian male lead who's more a lover than a fighter...
First of all, this is quite a touching story about a young man learning about himself and what drives him. One could easily see someone like Zach Braff playing the lead role and the movie does have a bit of the feel of Garden State with perhaps even sharper dialog. It would be a good movie without the added dimension of having the a realistic Asian-American male lead, Liam, brilliantly portrayed by Ken Leung. Liam has problems, but not the stereotypical Asian problem of shyness - he's has no problems picking up women of all races (though he prefers blondes) but can't seem to relate to any of them except a precocious teenager (wonderfully played by Hayden Panettiere of Heroes fame) who is off-limits.
He's forced to look deep into his roots when his grandmother whom he's never met leaves her house in Shanghai. The identity conflict that arise from being born in one country but raised in another is what I call the 1.5 generation problem. The first and second generation of immigrants identify with their country of birth, either the old country or the new one, but those of us that are in between are uniquely cognizant of both cultural pulls. It's not so bad in Canada where this is nearly the norm nowadays, but the monoculture in the US and the pressure to choose tribes puts a lot of stress on someone like Liam or I imagine, the writer, David Ren, who are both Asian and American and neither. This struggle is brought out sensitively, naturally and is touching without being overly sentimental or preachy.
I hope this film what Double Happiness and Sandra Oh did for female Asian-Americans (actually Canadian - she's from my home town) and acclimate Hollywood to a multi-faceted realistic male Asian lead. In any case, regardless of the political implications, this is just a good, enjoyable romantic comedy about a young man finding himself and well worth watching.
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