Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Jon M Chu

Stars: Henry Golding, Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Pierre Png, Ken Jeong, Jimmy O Yang, Ronny Chieng, Lisa Lu, Harry Shum jr, Chris Pang, Nico Santos, Janice Koh.

See the source image

A contemporary fairy tale set in Singapore, Crazy Rich Asians is a feel good crowd pleasing romcom, and more significantly it is one of the first films from a major Hollywood studio since The Joy Luck Club 25 years ago to feature an all Asian cast.

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu, from Fresh Off The Boat, etc) is an economics professor at a prestigious New York university. Her boyfriend is the handsome Nick Young (Henry Golding, a former travel show host making his film debut), and although they have been dating for two years she doesn’t know much about his family or his background. Then Nick decides to invite her to his home in Singapore to attend his best friend’s wedding and to meet his family, and in particular his mother, the imperious Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh, better known for her action roles in films like the Oscar winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc).

Rachel has never visited Asia before and is understandably nervous. But as she learns more about Nick and his family she is surprised to discover that his family is one of the most powerful and richest real estate developers in Asia, their wealth dating back to the early days of Singapore. Nick is the heir to their business empire. While Eleanor is disapproving of Rachel, believing that she is not good enough for her son because of her background, most of the close knit, gossiping community believe that she is a gold digger only interested in Nick for his money. The hunky Nick is the most eligible bachelor in all of Asia apparently. With the help of her best friend Peik Lin (played by rapper Awkwafina, recently seen in Ocean’s 8) and her eccentric family, Rachel stands up to the cold Eleanor.

A major subplot follows Nick’s wealthy sister Astrid (Gemma Chan) and her family problems. Astrid is married to Michael (Pierre Png), who is unhappy and uncomfortable about the way she flaunts her wealth, and which is putting a strain on their marriage.

Crazy Rich Asians is based on the best-selling 2013 novel from Kevin Kwan, which is the first book in a trilogy, and the screenplay from Peter Chiarelli (The Proposal, Now You See Me 2, etc) and Adele Lim (the first feature screenplay from a television writer who has worked on series such as One Tree Hill, Life On Mars, etc) wisely sticks closely to the source material. Director Jon M Chu is better known for his work on action films like GI Joe: Retaliation and Now You See Me 2, but he brings a suitably light and playful touch to the material here and keeps things moving along fairly briskly.

The film is set in Singapore, and the city certainly looks amazing on the screen, as cinematographer Vanja Cernjul (Orange Is The New Black, etc) captures some colourful locations and great vistas of this modern, beautiful and glittering city that makes you want to book holiday there as soon as you leave the cinema. Crazy Rich Asians is a look at the excessive and glamourous lifestyle of Singapore’s rich and famous, and explores universal themes of romance, tradition, culture clash, family and tradition. The production design from Nelson Coates (Fifty Shades Darker, etc) is also gorgeous and captures the splendour of the gaudy lifestyle enjoyed by the Young family and the other nouveau riche clans. The Young’s lavish, sprawling estate is spacious. Early scenes also feature some mouth-watering local delicacies as Nick and Rachel sample the wares at a thriving marketplace.

The hunky Golding has a strong, smouldering screen presence as the essentially decent Nick who is caught up in the battle of wills between Rachel and Eleanor. He and Wu have a great chemistry together and develop a good rapport. Yeoh is excellent, she has a strong and imperious presence here as Nick’s cold and demanding mother. Some colourful supporting characters are brought to life by a great ensemble cast that includes a scene stealing performance from Awkwafina, and with buffoonish antics from Keon Jeong (from the Hangover series, etc), and comics Ronny Chieng and Jimmy O Yang.

The film delivers some great laughs. It is also a tad predictable, but it is more about the journey rather than the destination. This is a genuine crowd pleaser, and given its box office success it is more than likely that we will get a sequel soon.


Speak Your Mind