In UK cinemas October 2019
Director: Sasie Sealy
Cast: Tsai Chin, Corey Ha
Country: USA 2019
Running time: 87 mins
This offbeat, comedy about a pint-sized, chain-smoking widower who has a run-in with the Chinatown triads when she stumbles upon a fortune, brings Tsai Chin (Joy Luck Club) as the eighty-year-old Grandma Wong to the front of the screen.
Grandma Wong shrugs off threats behind an endless veil of smoke and a larger-than-life bodyguard (Taiwanese movie star Corey Ha). Thankfully, her plain speaking, deadpan disgruntlement never lets up.
Lucky Grandma is set entirely within the Chinese American world of New York, spoken mostly in Chinese with a dash of American vernacular. There are casinos, back street mahjong parlors, water tai chi, overflowing stalls, visits to the fortune teller to analyse Wong’s ying and yang and lashings of Chinese cooking to wet the appetite.
Lucky Grandma is a quirky, gangster movie with a few twists, not least it’s heroine. Tsai Chin is a joy to watch, refreshingly natural with deep lines and greying hair untouched, in an industry obsessed with youth and falsity. Lucky Grandma manages to reign back just enough on the crafty, little old lady stereotype. The juxtaposition between this feisty old woman and the vicious young guns she tries to outwit is perfectly pitched. Director Sasie Sealy sums it up “This is my love letter to Chinatown and all the badass elderly women who inhabit it.”
(First Reviewed London Film Festival October 2019)