Jon M. Chu (Now You See Me 2, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) provides quite the lap of luxury in the Far East as his Crazy Rich Asians is an unexpectedly satisfying adaptation of the popular Kevin Kwan novel.
The hook here is an all Asian, Asian-American cast for a major studio release (the first since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club) that embraces a perusal of high society and extravagance as seen in The Princess Diaries, The Beverly Hillbillies and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, for example.
Openness and reason are brought to the fore by attractive Big Apple couple Rachel (Constance Wu of The Lego Ninjago Movie) and Nick (Henry Golding, British/Malaysian actor, once a television travel host). The Chinese-American lady has a nice gig at NYU teaching economics and the typical guy checks out Netflix programming when not at the YMCA shooting hoops.
Jetting first-class to Singapore (there’s now a direct 19-hour flight from Newark to Singapore) to stay at Nick’s family manse (where much Mandarin is heard) for his best friend’s wedding, Rachel learns that her boyfriend is a beneficiary to the one of the continent’s highly valued properties. So, the hard worker gets schooled in this new experience trying to assimilate herself into a different crowd. A money-oriented land of consumerism greets her from the palatial estates, fashions, automobiles, not to mention the jewelry as Rachel is the audience-surrogate.
Nick’s mother, Eleanor, an icily charismatic Michelle Yeoh (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Memoirs of a Geisha) isn’t too keen about Rachel’s warmth and excitement towards her profession, as well as her son. While elements of the narrative are remiss like at least one character this cruising of southeast Asia is often an outrageous escapade and spectacle.
Crazy Rich Asians isn’t just bolstered by the quality of Wu and Golding, but by secondary appearances by hip-hop artist, television personality and actress Awkwafina (real name Nora Lum) of Ocean’s 8 as Rachel’s rowdy college chum Peik Lin helping around a new environment, as well as the lovely Gemma Chan as Nick’s sister Astrid, and the customarily droll Ken Jeong of the sitcom Community and from The Hangover movies.