"....a quality coming-of-age flick and I highly recommend seeking it out."
Director: Chris Chan Lee
Producer: Chris Chan Lee, David Yang
Writer: Chris Chan Lee
Cast: John Cho, Burt Bulos, Mary Chen, Charles Chun, Michael Chung, Susan Fukuda
Running Time: 90 min.
Plot: 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.
WOODY'S REVIEW: "Yellow," storywise, isn't really all that groundbreaking. It's your classic teen-centered coming-of-age story, taking place, like so many others, on the last day of high school. What is groundbreaking, however, is that the teens in this film are actual Asian-Americans. American films, the teen genre is particular, have a tough time seeing Asian-Americans as anything but painful stereotypes, the best example in my mind being Gedde Watanabe's immortal Long Duk Dong in John Hughes "Sixteen Candles." Watanabe talk in Engrish while showing love for big American woman and getting drunk, exercise, climb in tree...it's a so funny! Imagine what would have happened if Hughes had done the same to a black character, having him eating water melon, chasing around fat white girls, and saying "Why, yessuh bozz!" Shit would hit the fan, would it not?
Fortunately, "Yellow" was written and directed by Chris Chan Lee, an actual Korean-American, and stars an entirely Asian cast, predominantly Korean-American (with one bad-ass half-Filipino guy).
"Yellow" has a very simple plot. High school has ended, and eight friends make plans to party the night away. Unfortunately, one of the friends, Sin Lee, is robbed at his dad's liquor store and is afraid to go home and tell him. The night soon becomes a desperate scavenger hunt, with the friends doing their best to get rich quick in order to help out Sin. But as soon as they get the money, it is gone, and Sin must confront his tendency of running away from problems, but not before committing a crime that might alter the course of his entire life.
As far as coming-of-age stories go, "Yellow" is a one of the best I have ever seen. The film concentrates on the friendship between Sin and Alex, who is half-Korean and half-Filipino, and whose lack of love from a Korean family causes anger to burn deep within. Alex wants to go to college and let some of that tension out on the ladies (understandable), but Sin isn't sure whether or not he can go through with college, for the demands placed on him by his father are far too much for him to handle. After being robbed, Alex assembles the troops in order to help his friend, which is both funny and kind of sad in the end. The friendship between Alex and Sin drives this film, Sin being tortured by family expectations, Alex by a lack of family expectations.
"Yellow," for what it lacks in budget (not to say it looks bad or anything), is a very vibrant and appealing film. The script is instantly relatable to anyone who has ever been a second or third generation Asian teen, and the cast make the most of their characters, standouts being Burt Butos as Alex, Michael Chung as Sin Lee, and the ever-reliable John Cho. Chris Chan Lee has delivered a very solid debut film with "Yellow" and is definitely one to watch out for. All in all, a very enjoyable coming-of-age story, with at least one great scene (the ATM password scene...hilarious), and no really bad ones. Thankfully, there has been somewhat of a boom in Asian-American filmmaking lately, with films like this and Justin Lin's hard-hitting "Better Luck Tomorrow." Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come, because the "ah-so, me-so-horny" act got old a LOOONG time ago. Like I said, Blacks don't put up with that kind of shit, so why would Asians? What we need is an Asian Spike Lee to stick to the man, using great filmmaking as opposed to mopping the floor with them using kung fu, which would just be counterproductive in fighting stereotypes. But before I go on some big diatribe, here's the bottom line: "Yellow" is a quality coming-of-age flick and I highly recommend seeking it out.
WOODY'S RATING: 8.5/10