DirectorJon M. Chu
Release Date(s)2018 (November 20, 2018)
Studio(s)Color Force/SK Global Entertainment/Warner Bros. (Warner Home Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
What distinguishes Crazy Rich Asians from other rom-coms is its focus on luxury, affluence, privilege, and tradition. Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a New York economics professor, accompanies her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding, A Simple Favor), to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Rachel is excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family. As they board a private airplane with every possible amenity for the long flight, Rachel realizes that Nick has not told her that he’s from a wealthy family.
Once in Singapore, Rachel experiences a whole new world. Since Nick is a bachelor and heir to a massive family fortune, Nick’s family and friends regard her with suspicion. With the help of social networking, everyone learns about her almost instantly. Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), sizes Rachel up and asks her questions about her simple upbringing and family background. It’s clear from their first meeting that Eleanor has no intention of allowing an American nobody to waltz off with her son. Rachel also reconnects in Singapore with her offbeat pal from college, Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina, Ocean’s Eight), who offers much of the movie’s comic relief.
Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians covers familiar territory but gets a different spin with its all-Asian cast, opulent production design, and colorful characters. The storybook tale portrays the social struggle between the American pursuit of individual happiness and the Chinese ideal of family sacrifice. Ms. Yeoh creates a chilling portrayal of the intimidating Eleanor in an underplayed performance that contrasts with the high-intensity performances of most of the other supporting actors. Golding and Chu are a vision of calm amid a dizzying display of opulence, wild partying, and energy that consume much of the proceedings.
Ms. Wu is the fish-out-of-water character. Wide-eyed at the resplendent lifestyle of the Young family, she does her best to fit in, get to know the relatives, and defer to their customs. But she is hurt by the unpleasant motives ascribed to her and begins to doubt that a life with Nick could work because of his family’s strong connection.
Director Jon M. Chu (Now You See Me 2) creates a world of moneyed elegance in which several melodramatic subplots thrive in typical soap opera style. There’s a helping of bitchiness from certain characters, and champagne flows constantly. Chinese culture is apparent throughout, from the art of dumpling making and a fondness for mahjong to the emphasis on respect for tradition. The soundtrack contains many Chinese covers of American pop hits, which adds an air of familiar exoticism.
The main feature is presented in 1080p high definition. Aspect ratio is 2.4:1. The soundtrack is English 5.1 DTS-HD. Available subtitles are in English, French, and Spanish. Visual quality is excellent, with rich, bright colors highlighting the party scenes and particularly the vibrant costumes. Color palette on the wedding scene is more muted, and interior scenes reflect elaborate detail in the homes. Sound is well balanced with dialogue easily heard over ambient noise and music.
Bonus materials on the 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include commentary by director Jon M. Chu and novelist Kevin Kwan, the featurette Crazy Rich Fun, deleted scenes, and a gag reel. A Digital Copy is enclosed.
Audio commentary – Director Jon M. Chu and novelist Kevin Kwan discuss details of filmmaking. Titles were designed to suggest those of old Hollywood movies. Kwan talks about presenting a “menagerie of characters” and explains that the heart of Singapore, where he grew up, is family and friends. The city contains many intersecting cultures. Chu notes that he wanted to show Nick as a powerful, sexually attractive Asian man, a portrayal largely missing in films. Chu discusses the input of improvisation in the dinner scene featuring Peik Lin and her father Wye Man Goh (Ken Jeong). Jeong flew to the location the same day he filmed the scene. Sets are based on places Kwan knew growing up. A scene, originally cut, was restored because it shows Nick and Rachel as a couple, able to get over rough spots. The dumpling scene shows the loving, large Young family, something Rachel, as the only child of a single mother, never had. Chu likens a mah jong game with Rachel and Eleanor as a “knife fight” of wills, showing that Rachel is capable of making sacrifices. Yeoh didn’t want to play Eleanor as a villain, but as a woman defending tradition.
Deleted Scenes –
Karaoke – Rachel is shown reluctant to perform at a karaoke bar.
Nick & Mom – Nick and Eleanor have an argument about Rachel.
Medevac – A helicopter lands and takes Nick and Colin off an island.
Wedding Dance – This is an extended version of the dance in the movie.
Shopgirl – Rachel and her mother shop for clothes for Rachel to wear in Singapore.
Crazy Rich Fun – Director Chu refers to the film as “a secret society that we’re showing people.” Producer John Penotti discusses the rich detail of both character and environment. Constance Wu talks about differences between Chinese Asians and Asians from other countries. Chu highlights the film’s celebration of culture and proudly states that he assembled the “top Asian talent working in the business today.”
Gag Reel – This is a brief montage of actors mugging between takes and a few actual bloopers.
– Dennis Seuling