Last week’s number one movie in the Philippines and the the top blockbuster in the USA right now for two weeks in a row is the groundbreaking romcom Crazy Rich Asians. Based on the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan, this film adaptation features an all Asian ensemble with Constance Wu (Fresh Off The Boat) headlining the film. Henry Golding, a discovery from The Bachelorette, stars opposite Wu as the boyfriend from a "crazy rich" family with Michelle Yeoh in the role of its matriarch. An Asian cast raking in the bucks at the US box office is truly a game changer that is monumental enough for us to celebrate this cinematic event.
[related: Daily Diaries: What Astrid From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Taught Me About Being A Woman]
The film opens small to show the intimate relationship of Rachel Chu (Wu) and the Nick Young (Golding), whose status Chu has been oblivious to. That is, until a group of Singaporeans take a snap of this scene then sparking a social media frenzy. The treatment is fresh and quirky, setting the tone for this Asian romcom. +3
The film’s greatest strength lies on the strong performances of its cast with its lead Wu delivering an elusively hilarious and certainly endearing portrayal as Rachel. Her comic timing is spot on, turning typically mundane statements into punchlines. She is also radiant and uber gorgeous in the film, proving to the world that an Asian female lead can take a movie to the top of the US box office! +4
The next notable performance would be that of Yeoh’s, reminiscent of Meryll Streep’s portrayal in The Devil Wears Prada. Her regal screen presence exudes so much gravitas, even if she’s only in a supporting role in the film—a testament to the adage: ‘Less is more.' +3
For an acting debut, Golding fills in the shoes of the heir to the throne of the crazy rich Asian empire quite perfectly. His bearing is swoonworthy with just the right acting chops to back up his physique. +2
Another support character that steals the show is rapper/actress Awkwafina as Rachel’s BFF, Peik Lin Goh. Her comic timing and swag fortifies the com in this romcom and becomes the perfect sounding board for our female lead. +3
Though Gemma Chan delivered a palpable portrayal with her queenly bearing as Astrid Young Teo, Nick’s sister, this story arc in the film was not seamlessly integrated within the film, making it seem like a different movie altogether. Though her character’s plot was actually engaging and was handled well with much subtlety, it just didn’t feel like it was part of the bigger picture. -3
Then, there’s the wet wedding. Even though at some point, the characters make fun of the flora inside the church, this sequence in the film ends up to be one of the more memorable moments and is truly magical in every sense of the word. I bet, more weddings with the bride literally walking on water will become a trend after this. +3
And how can we forget, the much-awaited cameo of Kris Aquino with only a few lines in the film but was a pivotal scene for Rachel’s character. Kris’s role as royalty will make snap your fingers in the air and say, ‘Yass Queen!’ Such a proud moment for Filipinos, which is evident in the audience reaction inside the cinema. +3
And though the film features an all Asian cast with an Asian director (Jon M. Chu) at the helm, the film still feels like it’s from a western point of view, looking into the Chinese culture in both the USA and Singapore. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that the director may be of Asian heritage but has grown up in the US. This, unlike for example, when Ang Lee handles a film of which the Asian touch is always evident. Nothing wrong with it, really, as the subtlety of both the dramatic and comedic moments make it truly enjoyable. If this is what it takes to put more Asians at the forefront of entertainment in Hollywood and on the global platform, then I’m all for it. +2
With a total of 20 points for the 20 box office records this film has broken (I’m obviously making this up), this massive Asian hit is definitely a must-watch for everyone. It will surely set you up for a delightful time in the cinema, seeing Asians in a different light as FABs (filthily abundant bastards—again, I just obviously made this up).
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Photos by Sanja Bucko courtesy of Warner Bros