Made in Chinatown | A Movie Review by Gary Williams

What happens when a Chinese American young man who always idolized the Italian Mafia and then gets a chance to prove himself to the local Don? If you guessed culturally awkward situations, funny dialogue, a love story, kick-ass fight scenes and self-realization then you guessed right!

 

What was just describe is the James Lew and Robert Samuels directed action comedy Made in Chinatown.

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This comedy clash of cultures set in New York’s Little Italy and Chinatown is the brainchild of writer Mark V. Wiley tells both a hear-warming and gut busting story centered around “Vinny” Chow’s ( played with a low-key cool by newcomer Jay Kwon)obsession with movie Mafia culture and the desire to impress the girl of his dreams Tina Di Pocco ( portrayed by Theresa Moriarty). Meanwhile, the corrupt police detective Sean O’Greedy (veteran actor Raymond J. Barry) aligns with Chinatown mob boss Hung Phat ( veteran Shaw Brothers actor and Number 5 The Toad from Five Venoms) Lo Meng to take over the illegal spice trading business from Italian Dons Amadore Condimento ( The Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore) and Al Capella ( Tony Darrow of Goodfellas fame). Cue “Vinny” Chow and his chance to get in good with the Mafia. Vinny and his two friends Lawrence (Emmanuel Brown),the kung fu fighting thespian and Joey Rissotto are recruited by Special Agents Johnson and Johnson (Co-director Robert Samuels and Bob Martin)to set up the Italian Dons and retrieve information about the illegal spice dealing. Unfortunately for Vinny, a mishap puts him at odds with both the Italian Mob and The Triads. Vinny has to use the kung fu skills and the wisdom of his Sifu ( Teacher) Master Tak (real life Tiger Claw Kung Fu and NY Chinatown mainstay Master Tak Wah Eng)and his true love May (Shuya Chang). What ensues is a kung fu free for all between the Mob, The Triads and Vinny and his allies!

 

Made in Chinatown is a fun watch and a feel good with but with kinetic and enjoyable fight scenes! Both directors, James Lew and Robert Samuels bring their action genius to the fight scenes. For old school kung fu film fans like myself, the casting of Five Venom alum Lo Meng was a stellar move! He brings an enthusiast to his role as triad boss Hung Phat and he also brings the goods in the fight scenes! His first fight scene with Kung Fu Hustle (and many old school HK kung fu movies) star Master Chiu Chi Ling was a forearm hitting slug fest where Hung Phat proves his ruthlessness and dominance. Unlike many other indie productions, Made In Chinatown’s fight scenes really do help drive the story. They are not thrown in for filler; they are not too short and not 20 minute counters upon counters. Samuels (Hong Kong Stuntman Association member and Sammo Hung disciple) and Lew (fight director for Marvel’s Luke Cage) use their lenses to capture the visceral nature of kung fu and it’s subtlety, just like they do with our main characters.  Also, be sure to check out cameos from some of NY Chinatown’s finest real life kung fu masters such as Paul Sun, Steven Y. Chan, Paul Koh, Peter Ngai who demonstrate their skill in Xing Yi, Eagle Claw and Tiger Claw styles of kung fu!

 

With a great cast, a quirky, yet entertaining story, funny improvised one liners, subtle character and over the top character portrayals and of course kick-ass kung fu Made in Chinatown deserves to be in your digital download queue and your watch list! Go to uasctv.com and watch Made In Chinatown today!

 

Made In Chinatown directed by Robert Samuels and James Lew and stars Vincent Pastore, Tony Darrow ,Lo Meng,  Jay Kwon, Emmanuel Brown, Shuya Chang, Theresa Moriarty,Timothy Chivalette and Celia Au.

 

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