Director: James Lew, Robert Samuels
Writer: Mark V Wiley (Screenplay)
Starring: Tony Darrow, Vincent Pastore, Raymond J Barry, Lo Meng, Jay Kwon, James Lew, Shuya Chang
Plot: Goodfellas meets Ip Man when a young Chinese nobody sets out to become a Don in the Italian Mafia. It turns out that earning respect, finding love, and discovering his identity doesn’t come so easy. He’ll have to fight his way to the top.
Tagline – To find love, earn respect, and save his family… “Vinny” Chow joins the MOB
Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: Made In Chinatown starts as the tensions between the Italian Mafia leaders Amadore Condimento (Pastore), Al Capella (Darrow) and Chinese Triad leader Hung Phat (Lo) start to return a boiling point in New York. Vinny Chow (Kwon) grew up in the middle of the two neighbourhoods, becoming drawn to the Italian culture over the Chinese one, making friends on both sides.
Vinny looks to try and get his way into the Mafia, only getting rejected along the way, until Amadore wants to hire a Chinese guy to be part of the Mafia to go against another circle, Vinny becomes that man.
Thoughts on Made in Chinatown
Characters & Performances – Vinny Chow is a Chinese man born and raised in New York between Chinatown and Little Italy, he has been drawn towards the Italian culture, always dreaming of being part of the mob and earning respect. He finds himself being used by all sides for the play for the area, where he learns he might not be ready for the gangster life. He is more of a hapless figure in this world, never looking like he could get into the world, with nobody taking him seriously. Newcomer Jay Kwon does give us a strong comedic performance, where he will always act seriously, despite the situation being more of a comedic moment. In the supporting characters we do get the generic Italian mobster figures, playing into every stereotype under the sun, we have the love interests that lead Vinny down his different paths, but no major characters stands out as more original than Vinny.
Story – The story here follows a young Chinese man that wants to become part of the Mafia and finds himself caught between a war between the Mafia and the Triads, with both sides not sure what his angle for trying to be part of the mob is. This is a story that will play into the stereotypes of the gangster figures, with one man trying to break that, trying to be different and never being taken seriously. It does play out like a series of misfortunes for Vinny, which will play into the laughs, rather than letting us take anything too seriously. This doesn’t go into as much depth as it could as we dive into the opposite world, or even what the battle is truly about, but it will give us the early entry point that Vinny might be around.
Themes – Made in Chinatown is a crime comedy that will play into the wrong type of person trying to play into a stereotypical character, in this case a Chinese man trying to be part of the Mafia. The New York setting will help keep us understand how close the two worlds might end up coming, when it comes to seeing how they will collide in the future. The comedy is mostly deadpan reactions to certain things happening to Vinny, with a few moments of slapstick when it comes to the fighting.
Final Thoughts – Made in Chinatown is an easy to watch comedy playing into the gangster stereotypes.