This is how much we enjoyed director Michael Kang's feature film, West 32nd, on Sunday night. We nearly got thrown down the stairs in the crazed frenzy for seats at the Castro Theatre, had a near meltdown at the snack counter when we waited in line for freaking-ever only to realize they only took cash, and then peed in our pants a little bit when we couldn't reach the bathroom, and still, still we have nothing but good things to say about the movie, not to mention warm and fuzzy feelings for the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival for bringing filmmakers like Michael Kang to the unwashed masses (or at least to one battered, thirsty gal, who soiled herself.)
West 32nd is the story of an ambitious young New York attorney (played by John Cho) who stumbles into the Korean-American underworld during his pursuit of a pro bono case. The movie is evocative of an old Al Pacino cops and robbers flick mixed with the influences of recent Asian cinema like Oldboy or Infernal Affairs. It has all the elements of an excellent crime drama; lots of action, plenty of plot twists and turns, sexual tension (with Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park), moral dilemmas and a not too-neatly tied up ending.
It felt like more than just a good movie though. It felt special somehow. It struck us that it is probably the only movie in this genre that we've seen that feels like a totally American story and an authentically Asian-American one as well.
West 32nd trailer above. SFist Mihi, contributing.