James Lew & Robert Samuels directed this lighthearted indie fare that is described as “Goodfellas meets Ip Man when a young Chinese nobody called Vincent (Jay Kwon) 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.”
Made in Chinatown doesn’t have a huge budget so there aren’t any big set-pieces but it still manages to have heart, laughs and regular fight scenes featuring genuine martial artists.
The most enjoyable aspect is spotting various legends like James Lew and Raymond J. Barry but I also thought Emmanuel Brown was a bit of a scene stealer as Lawrence. Robert Samuels has a small role as an FBI Agent and his name (and the name of his partner) is a nice nod to Die Hard.
Vincent (or Vinnie as people call him) isn’t an especially sympathetic character for a lot of the film denying his own heritage and wanting to join the mob basically after watching too many mafia movies. That is his arc for this tale however, so we have to get through a few awkward scenes of him being a bit of an ass but we know where the story is going to go. His lifelong friend May (Shuya Chang) is obviously who he should end up with, but will he make the right choice?
It’s a tale about being yourself and being true to your roots without trying to please other people by being something you’re not.
The script isn’t quite as funny as it could be but the deliberate mob stereotypes provided a few laughs and it’s such harmless fare that it’s not hard to just enjoy the ride.
Overall, Made in Chinatown is a fun romp with some enjoyable fights and wacky characters but it’s also something the whole family can enjoy due to its positive message about being true to yourself.