UASC TV Launches with Made In Chinatown!
Hollywood Polish, Hong Kong Action, and a Hitman with Heart
By Jeof Vita, Host of the Kung Fu Drive-In Podcast & Kung Fu Drive-In Podcast TV
Watch Made In Chinatown Now On UASC TV
If films were restaurant dishes, what would you call a movie with a rich, comedy base, a generous helping of mob muscle, topped off with some good old fashioned kung fu fighting? Regardless of the name, a unique dish like that could only be Made in Chinatown.
The feature film debut of Writer and Producer Mark Wiley, and veteran indie film Director (and Hong Kong cinema vet), Robert “Bobby” Samuels, with co-direction from martial arts icon, James Lew is a love letter to a number of film genres that somehow comes together to make a witty, warm, and winsome look into the life of a wannabe goomba who happens to be more wushu than wise guy.
Stuntman and actor, Jay Kwon, takes on the role of Vinny Chow, a Chinese man disillusioned with his current station in life and who longs for the prestige and power afforded to the more “connected” citizens of his New York City neighborhood. Chow decides that living his best life means living the mob life, if only to capture the eye of beautiful mafia moll, Tina di Pocco, played by the charming and spunky Theresa Moriarty. But the mafia in this particular section of town, runs a dangerously spicy ring, literally, as the heads of the two clashing mafia dons deal not in stolen goods or ill-begotten services, but in supplying the local area with the various ingredients required for a good home cooked Italian meal. We’re talking pasta, sauces, spices, and olive oil. And it’s here that Chow thinks a good Chinese boy can become a made man. In a cascading series of foibles, Chow finds himself having to contend with the dons, the triad, or a special police task force so if he’s not talking his way out, he’s fighting his way out with some impressive comedic timing or martial arts wizardry.
Don Amadore Condimento, played with relish by Sopranos veteran, Vinny Pastore, finds himself at odds with Don Al Capella, brought to life by Tony Darrow, another Sopranos alum, when Chow tries to infiltrate one family, only to be recruited as a patsy by the other family. Pastore, well versed in the trappings of wiseguy roles, brings a lighthearted take to Condimento and if you look closely, you can almost see him smirk with every line because he’s clearly having fun with his character. Darrow’s Capella is the gruff counterpart who is quick to dispense discipline, but only after holding you captive with a gaze that seems to say, “What the hell’s the matter with you?” After that, stay away from the wax salami.
Added to the mix is the Chinese Triad boss Hung Phat, played by kung fu film legend Lo Meng, who fans will recognize as the Toad Venom or the Kid with the Golden Arm. Phat is merely trying to secure his piece of the pie but turf wars can become hard to handle especially when olive oil is involved. Lo Meng, long known in kung fu film circles for his larger than life physique and presence, swings a big stick as Hung Phat. He’s loud and brash and when needed, Lo Meng lets his fists and feet fly in several satisfyingly cool fight scenes that both Samuels and Lew put on screen in exciting fashion.
Rounding out the main cast is the slick and sleazy Raymond J. Barry, playing the corrupt police chief who’s after his cut and watch for a memorable cameo from another kung fu film legend, Chiu Chi Ling, in a tabletop battle to rival any Shaw Brothers classic. With names like Condimento, Al Capella, and Hung Phat, you might be tempted to unleash an epic eye roll, but as attested to by several of the cast, the film’s purposely cornier elements serve to soften the story and serve up a heartwarming tale of self-discovery and of course, amore. Made in Chinatown has won several awards for cast and crew and like any good meal, is often better heated up and served a second and sometimes third time.
Black Belt Magzine