A Delightful Caper (Review: LUCKY GRANDMA)
If you're looking for a film that makes you laugh but also throws in a little danger, look no further than Sasie Sealy's LUCKY GRANDMA, a film about a surly, chain-smoking old woman living in New York's Chinatown whose good fortune leads her to some unlucky circumstances.
Our titular character, played by Tsai Chin, is never named, touting the name "Grandma" (or nainai, they call her) proudly, like any grandma would. But she maybe leans into her pride a little too much... the death of her husband has left her with no money, but she refuses her son's offer to move in with him and get help in her old age.
Grandma's fortune teller tells her that she will have a good streak of luck, and so she takes a casino bus to gamble some money into her life. This is clearly not her first time at the casino, but perhaps she presses her luck a little too much, and ends up back on the bus with even less money than she started out with. On the ride home, she discovers that her bus buddy has died in his sleep, leaving a bag full of cash. Though she notes the tattoo on his neck that indicates he is part of a local gang, Grandma takes the cash, sure that this is what her luck has entitled her to.
But the next day, two men come looking for that money - known as Little Handsome (Michael Tow) and Pock-Mark (Woody Fu), they are a bit clownish but still threatening enough to spook Grandma. Turning to a rival gang, led by Sister Fong (Yan Xi), Grandma hires a bodyguard named Big Pong (Hsiao-Yuan Ha), a tall, oafish man - probably the laziest bodyguard you'd meet, but Grandma haggles and gets him at a discount.
And so the antics continue. Big Pong looks after Grandma, helping her to get out of scuffles and protecting her from her pursuers, and Grandma in turn gives Big Pong noodles and watches movies with him, never admitting that she has actually stolen the money the gang members are after... until her grandson, David (Mason Yam) is kidnapped for ransom.
With countless roles under her belt, Chin finally gets her moment to shine. She will steal your heart instantaneously. And the surrounding cast creates such an environment that the film deftly balances dark comedy elements with a heavy dose of heart. LUCKY GRANDMA is a delightful caper, a fresh breath of air in the lineup of films currently being released.
LUCKY GRANDMA is now available on-demand at www.midtowncinema.com! Don't miss this gem!