Review / ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (PG) *** and a half

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THE creeping onset of Chinese hegemony is a political, diplomatic, military and financial phenomenon that doesn’t need a serious, bleak movie to warn the rest of the world of its potential.

US-born and raised director Jon Chu probably understands that better than most. In this film written by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim (who’s written a heck of a lot of US TV network series) and adapting a best-seller by Kevin Kwan, it underpins a romantic piece of puffery that wallows among Chinese upper-class wealth to tell a story of a romance conceived in America and brought to China for gestation and parturition.

It’s full of bling, fast cars, sumptuous meals, beautiful young women, parties and above all, a family that dare not cross matriarch Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) whose political skills are formidable and whose cunning in a family squabble is something to behold.

China-born Nick Young (Henry Golding) invites his American-born economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and lover to accompany him on her first travel outside America to his brother’s wedding in Singapore. To accept youthful and freshly pretty Rachel as an economics professor requires a leap of faith but heck, that’s how things are in America.

The Singapore media are all over Rachel who’s unaware that Nick is the scion of one of Asia’s wealthiest families. The film leaps from that springboard to splash around among how Western influences are corroding Chinese traditions and explore their capacity to delight and terrify. Yes, readers, “Crazy Rich Asians” is a chick-flick, fair to average quality of its genre, also delivering sneaky truths about a country where the upper crust comprising one per cent of the population controls a third of the national wealth.

The filmmakers have subtly set out to make us aware of that. But perhaps they’ve made the cream at the top tasty to disguise the inequality lying beneath.

At all cinemas

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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